World Cup 2019 the goal for AB

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS

CRICKET South Africa will con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate with AB de Vil­liers about his in­ter­na­tional future but the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Ha­roon Lor­gat, in­sisted that De Vil­liers is not pick­ing and choos­ing when he wants to play Test cricket.

In­stead it’s about De Vil­liers man­ag­ing his sched­ule with an eye on playing in the 2019 World Cup. De Vil­liers will play no part in the three-Test series in New Zealand. “I will be there for the ODIs, and I’m def­i­nitely not re­tir­ing from Test cricket be­cause I have plans to come back at some stage. For now the most im­por­tant thing is the 2019 World Cup,” De Vil­liers said at the launch of the “Pink Day ODI” at the Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day.

“I want to make sure we lift that tro­phy. Ob­vi­ously there are other fac­tors that play a role like fam­ily and time away from home, but the main rea­son for me is that World Cup and I feel if I play all for­mats all the time then men­tally and phys­i­cally I won’t be at my best.”

Lor­gat said that for plan­ning pur­poses De Vil­liers would have to in­form CSA, the na­tional coach­ing staff and the na­tional se­lec­tors in good time about whether he is avail­able for a par­tic­u­lar Test series. “It can’t be the day or the week be­fore. He needs to in­di­cate in good time,” he said.

“It’s not pick­ing and choos­ing. If the se­lec­tors and team feel they have a win­ning for­mula go­ing, AB is fully aware that it is the se­lec­tors who will de­ter­mine whether he will come back into the team or not,” Lor­gat ex­plained.

De Vil­liers, be­cause he is cap­tain, must be play ev­ery One-Day In­ter­na­tional, said Lor­gat.

The 32-year-old will re­turn for the third T20 In­ter­na­tional against Sri Lanka next Wed­nes­day in Cape Town after miss­ing the last six months of ac­tion with an el­bow in­jury that re­quired surgery in Novem­ber. He said the el­bow was close to be­ing 100 per­cent and that he needs just a cou­ple of weeks so that he can get the last “one or two de­grees to help it straighten com­pletely”.

South Africa face a heavy and high-pro­file Test sched­ule over the next 14 months that, fol­low­ing New Zealand, in­cludes four Tests in Eng­land, four against In­dia and four against Aus­tralia, the lat­ter two series on home soil. “What we are do­ing and tended to do is to take it a series at a time,” said Lor­gat about CSA’s ne­go­ti­a­tions with De Vil­liers.

“I’m con­fi­dent that by the time we are look­ing at Eng­land, the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, he’ll be fully fit, rar­ing to go, his ap­petite would have re­turned.”

Cricket SA are con­fi­dent De Vil­liers’s series-toseries de­ci­sion won’t have any ef­fect on the Test team – not hugely – be­cause, as Lor­gat ex­plained, suf­fi­cient player depth has been cre­ated. “We’ve got enough tal­ent that wants to rep­re­sent South Africa. We’ve built the team with­out AB, that’s a very big pos­i­tive. The ab­sence of AB has al­lowed oth­ers to step up.”

If De Vil­liers is al­lowed to choose which Tests to play and in­forms CSA in a timely fash­ion, it could open up time for him to play in var­i­ous T20 leagues around the world. He al­ready has a lu­cra­tive con­tract in the IPL and last year made his first ap­pear­ance in the Caribbean Pre­mier League – where he in­jured his el­bow. If, for ex­am­ple, he doesn’t want to play against In­dia at the end of the year it opens the op­por­tu­nity to play in the Big Bash in Aus­tralia, where it is un­der­stood, some fran­chises have al­ready put out feel­ers about his availability. “It’s very dif­fi­cult (for South Africa) to com­pete money-wise with those kind of attractions,” said Lor­gat.

“We’ve built a kind of iden­tity, a struc­ture – about why you should play for the Proteas, why you should be proud to rep­re­sent your coun­try.”

De Vil­liers, who also con­firmed that he and wife Danielle were ex­pect­ing their sec­ond child, played the last of his 106 Tests in Cen­tu­rion in Jan­uary 2016 against Eng­land, mak­ing nought in each in­nings.

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