AB looks to T20 to make right with SA

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

AB de Vil­liers can’t wait for the T20 International Se­ries against Eng­land, which kicks off at a swel­ter­ing Southamp­ton tonight, to start.

The Proteas have had more than a week to deal with be­ing dumped out of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, and the stand-in T20 skip­per is also done with look­ing back and un­pack­ing what is al­ready done.

“I’m ex­cited to play in the three T20’s. It was a tough few days af­ter be­ing knocked out of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy; go­ing through the phase of re­flect­ing, hear­ing the crit­i­cism, which is never easy,” he ad­mit­ted.

De Vil­liers added that he and the squad re­main up­beat on what has been a tough trip to the UK so far.

“I have al­ways been the per­son to try and see the pos­i­tive and the op­por­tu­nity to im­prove, and these three matches give me that op­por­tu­nity as a player and as cap­tain of the team.”

With a Test se­ries in mind, South Africa have a team that has one eye on the fu­ture, and another on try­ing to get some mo­men­tum go­ing on this nearly three-month stay in the UK.

While the likes of Quin­ton de Kock, JP Du­miny and Test cap­tain Faf du

Plessis are hav­ing an ex­tra week at home, De Vil­liers did quip that there was a Test star who was float­ing about in the team.

“Kag­iso is also hang­ing. I think he just likes it here in Eng­land,” the star bats­man said of the spear­head.

How­ever big the dis­ap­point­ment was in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, De Vil­liers and Co seem to have dealt with it and moved onto the next as­sign­ment. Hav­ing new faces in the squad helps with that, too.

“It’s great to work with some of the new play­ers, it has al­ways been one of my dreams to give back what I have learnt over the years. I’m get­ting that op­por­tu­nity now with some of the young­sters in the team, and it’s great to see the tal­ent com­ing through,” a cheer­ful De Vil­liers en­thused.

The likes of Man­gal­iso Mosehle, Andile Phehluk­wayo, Reeza Hen­dricks and Tabraiz Shamsi are all keen to make an impression, and the T20 for­mat now has an ex­tra di­men­sion to it for South African play­ers.

More than just do­ing well for your coun­try, a strong show­ing in the next three matches could swell bank bal­ances when the T20 Global League player draft comes along in Au­gust. Any player with am­bi­tions to play a part in that, will al­ready know that there will be an eye out for spe­cial per­for­mances, so there is no lack of mo­ti­va­tion around the team.

De Vil­liers and the other mar­quee play­ers made the trip up from Southamp­ton on Mon­day, and they were all ex­cited about the new era that the Global League will usher in.

“It’s im­por­tant for the ICC and the fran­chise tour­na­ments go­ing on to get the right bal­ance in the fu­ture, for all play­ers to feel they know where they are go­ing with their ca­reers,” De Vil­liers warned.

“Fran­chise cricket played a huge role in my ca­reer; the IPL changed my

life com­pletely. It upped my skills as a player, as a young­ster I got

to know dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, and played with some of my heroes,” he ex­plained.

The T20 Global League can have that im­pact for other South African play­ers now, and it can also give some of the fi­nan­cial re­wards that they may have thought were be­yond them with­out the IPL.

“To have the T20 Global League in South Africa is an un­be­liev­able op­por­tu­nity for some of the young tal­ent to play with some of the best play­ers in the world at a high level of cricket. It’s great for our cricket, I’m ex­cited for the tour­na­ment,” De Vil­liers added.

It is an ex­cit­ing time, and they will look to take that ex­cite­ment into the Rose Bowl to­mor­row evening.

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