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Ex-Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has called on South Africa batsman AB de Villiers to keep his Test career alive.
De Villiers recently gave up the Test captaincy and ruled himself out of all Test series for most of 2017, which has sparked rumours that he is contemplating retiring from the longest format in order to boost his chances of playing in the 2019 World Cup.
However, Watson admits that he wants to continue seeing the 32-year-old representing the Proteas in Test cricket and conceded that it would be a shame if he gave the format up entirely.
“(De Villiers) has played over 100 Test matches, he’s done incredibly well for South Africa, he’s got a young family now, there are other challenges in his life as well,” Watson told The Unplayable Podcast. “I’m not exactly sure what he’s going to do but it would be disappointing not to see him play Test cricket.
“In the end, everyone’s got to move on at some stage and if he does there’s plenty of cricket for him to be able to play for South Africa in the shorter formats.”
If De Villiers does end up pulling the trigger and ending his Test career, Watson insisted that there is always space for him at the Sydney Thunder, which is the Big Bash League (BBL) franchise Watson captains.
“There’s plenty of Twenty20 leagues and the Sydney Thunder are very keen to be get him involved if there’s an opportunity there,” he said. “Anyone would be falling over themselves to get AB de Villiers.
“He’s such a very kind, genuine person off the field and on the field he provides so much with his incredible skills. He’ll be fine whatever happens.”
When asked about the players he enjoys watching the most at the moment, Watson had no hesitation in naming De Villiers and India captain Virat Kohli.
Watson has witnessed first-hand what damage the pair are capable of inflicting as he has played against them in international matches and alongside them for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“(De Villiers) and Virat Kohli especially are the ones I love seeing, how they adapt to all different conditions and have done it for a long period of time,” Watson said. “But AB, gosh, he’s played over 100 Tests now and just dominated in all formats.
“He’s a genius in all formats. How he knows his game inside-out and tailors his game to whatever conditions and whatever bowlers are bowling. It’s just absolutely phenomenal to be able to watch.”