Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa batsman AB de Villiers has once again insisted that he hasn’t retired from Test cricket.
There is a lot of speculation surrounding De Villiers’ future in the longest format after he ruled himself out of a majority of the Proteas’ Test series this year.
De Villiers, who captains South Africa in ODIs, returned from an elbow injury in January after missing the Test series against New Zealand in August last year, the three-Test tour of Australia in November and the three-Test series against Sri Lanka in December-January.
However, despite making his comeback, De Villiers will only concentrate on limited overs cricket in order to keep himself as fresh as possible leading up to the 2019 World Cup. This decision saw him miss South Africa’s Test series in New Zealand in March.
But, he will also be absent for the Proteas’ four-Test series in England in July and their two-Test series against Bangladesh in September-October.
“I made some important decisions for my life and career in the last year or so in order for me to have the best chance of winning trophies and being part of a successful team,” De Villiers said. “Physically I realised I’m the best I can be when I’m fresh and looking forward to cricket instead of the other way round and being tired when I’m playing.
“Spending time with the family has done me the world of good and it is about finding the balance of working hard to win with time away from the game.”
When asked if he will change his mind prior to the Test series against England, De Villiers said: “I haven’t retired, no. But I’m not going to change my decision. I’ll look indecisive.”
The 33-year-old is now focused on the upcoming three-match ODI series against England as he is aware of the fact that they have only lost one series at home since failing to get past the group stage at the 2015 World Cup.
“I remember thinking in 2015 they had hit rock bottom,” De Villiers admitted. “The way they came back from that earned a lot of respect around the world.”
While South Africa are in the same boat as England, whereby they have yet to win the World Cup, De Villiers pointed out that he is eager to replicate his country’s Champions Trophy triumph in the inaugural edition of the competition in 1998.
“I haven’t won one of these trophies in my career, so I’m pretty desperate to win one, and we’ll do anything we can to get out on top,” he said. “We know these tournaments are very competitive – there are eight teams that want to win it and can win it but we do think we’ve got a very good squad here. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.
“But first things first, we want to win the series against England.”
Having come to England after a stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Indian Premier League (IPL), De Villiers conceded that England all-rounder Ben Stokes poses a major threat as he feels the 25-year-old took his game to the “next level” during his time with the Rising Pune Supergiants.
“Stokes is a fantastic cricketer, with both bat and ball,” he added. “He’s definitely got something special about him.
“A lot of guys lose their way in the IPL, and others find the next level in their game. Ben Stokes definitely lifted his game and I think it would have done him the world of good.”