Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa have lost seven players to Kolpak deals over the last few months, including pace bowler Kyle Abbott, batsman Rilee Rossouw and wicketkeeper-batsman Stiaan van Zyl. Despite this, ODI captain AB de Villiers feels that the Proteas have nothing to worry about.
With those players having given up their international careers for the the county circuit in order to have more stable futures, De Villiers admitted that it is satisfying to see an inflow of young talent plug the gaps left by the players that departed.
“We are not harping on too much on what we lost, rather focusing on what we have gained over the last few months,” he said. “Yes, here are quite a few talented guys we have lost, which is not good for our depth at home. There’s nothing we can do about that. It’s part and parcel of what we are confronted with in recent times. We can’t stop guys from going where they want to go and playing cricket where they want to play cricket. I feel it’s something of the past.”
Furthermore, with Cricket South Africa having relaunched their domestic Twenty20 competition, rebranding it as the #T20 Global Destination League, De Villiers feels it will provide an incentive for players to stay in South Africa rather than look to other countries to play competitive cricket.
“The T20 tournament will make a big difference in keeping guys over there,” he said. “I truly believe the systems have been put in place to make sure it’s important for the guys stay at home.”
But, while a lavish ceremony for the #T20 Global Destination League will be held in London on June 18, De Villiers made it clear that the Proteas have to stay focused on their three-match ODI series against England and the Champions Trophy.
“It’s really important for us to focus on what we are dealing with now: a big series coming up,” the 33-year-old said. “We have no reason not to be confident with our recent performances, beating Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. We are pretty confident.
“It doesn’t get any better than playing in England before a big tournament against the hosts.”
In regards to the Champions Trophy, De Villiers admitted that England will be one of the frontrunners to win the tournament.
“They are one of the favourites,” he added. “They have an all-round balance with quite a few options for the captain in the bowling department and they bat deep. And then most of them are athletes, they move around well in the field. Like us, the balance is their strength.”
Despite having missed South Africa’s warm-up matches with a respiratory tract infection, De Villiers insisted that he has recovered and will be in action for the ODI series, which begins on Wednesday.
“I am probably 95% getting over that flu,” he said.