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by Saksham Mishra & Cricket World Tuesday 24 March 2020
South African star AB de Villiers has put all his eggs in the IPL basket, but with this edition of the league uncertain, de Villers will have to prove his form and fitness elsewhere to push his case for the national side.
AB de Villiers' retirement came like a bolt from the blue, as he decided to call it quits with the ODI World Cup in the horizon. While the reasoning given by him at that time was that the cricketer was exhausted by constant cricket and wanted to spend more time with his family, it later came to light that the South African management, or mismanagement rather, was also responsible for his premature retirement.
When asked about the possibility of the return of big guns like de Villiers, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris for the forthcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, head coach Mark Boucher said that a lot depended on their IPL performances:
“The big one is the IPL so we decided to let those guys – the free agents if you want to call them that – do the IPL and then afterwards make themselves available. We’ve still got quite a few games (before the World Cup). From the first of June, which is the Sri Lanka tour, those guys need to make themselves available. Whether we select them is another story. But they need to make themselves available if they want to put their hands up for a World Cup spot.”
Even de Villiers who had talked about "throwing his name in the hat" for the T20 World Cup, has been counting on the IPL. When asked about the prospect of his international return, de Villiers said:
"Let's wait and see what happens. My focus is on the Indian Premier League at the moment, and helping Royal Challengers Bangalore realise our full potential. Then we will sit down and have a look at the rest of the year and see what is possible.
"Each player must consider his own circumstances and make his own decision. I reached a point where I wanted to see more of my wife and two young sons, and seek a reasonable balance between family and cricket. The mental and physical demands on the leading players are massive these days, but each player must decide what he can and can't do."
At 36, de Villiers does not seem to be slowing down. He continues to play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League. Although his performance dipped a bit last year, with 442 runs from 13 matches at an average of 44.20 and a strike rate of 154.00, his numbers remained world class.
He also continued his good run in South Africa's premier domestic T20 competition, the Mzansi Super League. Playing for Tshwane Spartans, he ended as the third-highest run-scorer in the last edition of the MSL with 325 runs from 9 innings. With the highest of 69, he scored at an average of 45+ and a strike rate of over 150, ideal in T20 cricket.
Mr 360 degree also signed up for Brisbane Heat for the last edition of the Big Bash League. The Protea replaced Tom Banton and started off with a 32-ball 40 on BBL debut.
Along with de Villiers, the international future of Imran Tahir and Chris Morris also depends on the IPL, which itself is waiting for the Covid-19 curve to flatten. Uncertainty seems to be the buzzword in the time of coronavirus.
©Cricket World 2020
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