AB de Villiers’ Test conundrum has gotten deeper, with the star South Africa batsman not only ruling himself out for the Test series against New Zealand in March but also for the four-match series in England starting after the Champions Trophy.
The star South Africa batsman, who underwent elbow surgery, will also skip the two-Test series against Bangladesh and is apparently targeting a return for the four-Test series against India in December 2017. He will also skip most of the Twenty20 leagues in the world, except the Indian Premier League (IPL).
De Villiers, who last played Tests in January 2016 against England, has stressed he had not retired from Test cricket. “I’m not retiring out of Test cricket. I’m not retiring out of any format, that’s for sure,” he told South African radio station 702.
AB de Villiers has now also ruled himself out of South Africa's Test series in England later this year. Targeting a 2017-18 comeback.— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) January 18, 2017
However, AB De Villiers said he would have to manage his workload in order to be fit for the 2019 World Cup, which he said was top priority for him.
“We haven’t won a World Cup yet,” said De Villiers who leads the South Africa ODI team.
“For me, for now the most important thing is the 2019 World Cup. I want to make sure we get there. I want to make sure we lift that trophy. I feel that if I play all formats all the time, then mentally and physically I won’t be at my best.”
De Villiers is recovering from a long-term elbow injury which has kept him out of action since July. Test captain Faf du Plessis and coach Russell Domingo had suggested that they were unsure about the veteran’s comeback in Tests after his injury. De Villiers started attending net sessions only last month.
Testing out the elbow today. First net session in a long time! Excited and nervous at the same time— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) December 6, 2016
He is due to make a low-key comeback in a one-day match for the Northerns provincial team on Sunday.
But he said he would play in the third of three Twenty20 internationals against the Sri Lankan cricket team in Cape Town on January 25 before captaining South Africa in a five-match one-day series against the Sri Lankans.
“I am really excited to get going,” he said.
Haroon Lorgat, chief executive of Cricket South Africa (CSA), said he hoped De Villiers would be available for four Test matches in England starting in July.
“I’ve been engaged with him for some time and we’ve given him the latitude of taking time off and setting himself for the 2019 World Cup,” said Lorgat.
“We’re taking it one series at a time. I’m confident that by the time we get towards looking at England and the Champions Trophy (in June), he’ll be fully fit and raring to go.
“His appetite would have returned because then it would be a fair amount of time he has had. I’m confident England is a kind of series that he would want to be available for.”