With an eye on the T20 World Cup , AB de Villiers' international comeback on the cards
AB de Villiers enjoys a great rapport with the the likes of Boucher and Smith. This has led to a resumption of dialogue, with the T20 World Cup only a few months away.
AB de Villiers received a lot of flak from even his fans for walking away from the game with the ODI World Cup in the horizon, at a time when he was batting as well as he ever has. The reasoning that de Villiers gave for his retirement was that international cricket had taken a toll on him and he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Now with an overhaul in the South African setup and the likes of Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher coming in, players with whom de Villiers has played international cricket for about a decade, it is evident that it was not only for personal reasons but disagreement or dissatisfaction with the then South African management that led to de Villiers' premature retirement.
The seasoned campaigner gave a lot away when he said, "There are a lot of players who I used to play with, guys who understand the game, leaders of the team for many years. So it's much easier to communicate than what it used to be in the past. They understand what players go through - especially players that have played for 15 years internationally,"
Good returns in T20s continue
At 35 years, de Villiers does not seem to be slowing down. He continues to play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League and has just signed up for Brisbane Heat for this year's Big Bash League.
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, almost ideal in T20 cricket. The Protea has replaced Tom Banton and started off with a 32-ball 40 on BBL debut.
Proteas desperately in need of a dasher in T20Is
South Africa last played a T20I series against India. Although they managed to tie it at 1-1, it was felt that they did not have enough firepower in their ranks. Reeza Hendricks and Temba Bavuma failed to get going quickly. David Miller is clearly in the last stretch of his career.
They do have some good talent in Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen, but the team does not really have another batsman to add to that. It is not certain whether or not Faf du Plessis will be the back in the mix in T20 cricket.
At such a juncture, they do require a player like ABD, who will not only help to consolidate their batting line-up and score quickly but also bring some experience in the setup. He can be crucial to South Africa's fortunes if they intend to leave a mark in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Even during the ODI World Cup in which the Proteas had a disappointing run, controversy erupted about de Villiers having proposed to join the team for the World Cup, a day before the squad's announcement. However, the batsman had then cleared the air in a statement.
Good rapport with Boucher and Smith
It is understandable that de Villiers has a good rapport with the personnel currently serving both in the support staff and the administration which has led to a resumption of dialogue between the two parties.
Coach Mark Boucher had earlier expressed his willingness to consider the option seriously, "If I feel he is one of your best players, why wouldn't I want to have a conversation with him? I've only just got into the job, I might have conversations with quite a few players and see where they are.
"You want your best players playing in the World Cup and if there's a couple of issues you need to iron out, with media, with team-mates, and if it's for the good of South Africa, why not, let's do it."
De Villiers still maintains top-notch form and fitness. Although given the complexity of the South African set up, the transition might not be seemless. As is logical, they would monitor de Villiers' run in the ongoing Big Bash League before putting anything substantial on paper.
The management might include him in the T20Is against England and Australia in February.
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