De Vil­liers is eye­ing re­turn to Test arena

The Cricket Paper - - SECOND TEST PREVIEW - By Seth Fran­cis

AB de VIL­LIERS has stepped down as South Africa’s one-day cap­tain – but will still be avail­able for se­lec­tion in all three for­mats of the game.

De Vil­liers, 33, had been cap­tain for six years and played for the Proteas in the T20 se­ries against Eng­land last month, while he also cap­tained the ODI side in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, where they failed to reach the semi-fi­nals.

He hasn’t played a Test match though since Jan­uary 2016, miss­ing South Africa’s se­ries de­feat in Eng­land be­cause he “needed a bit of time away from the game”.

De Vil­liers said: “Faf du Plessis has proved to be an out­stand­ing cap­tain of the T20 and Test teams, and bear­ing this in mind, I have in­formed Cricket South Africa that I would like to step down as cap­tain of the ODI team.

“It has been an hon­our to lead the team for the past six years, but it is now time for some­one else to take the ODI side for­ward. Who­ever is cho­sen as the new ODI cap­tain will have my com­plete sup­port.

“Fol­low­ing this re­cent break, I re­ally do feel re­freshed and re­vived. I want to get back on the field and I have to­day as­sured the na­tional se­lec­tors that I will be avail­able for se­lec­tion in all three for­mats of the game dur­ing the com­ing sea­son.

“There is plenty of hard work ahead in the nets and I must pre­pare prop­erly, but I will be ready to play, if re­quired, from the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber.”

De Vil­liers has made more than 8,000 runs in Test cricket, av­er­ag­ing over 50, while his av­er­age is even higher in ODIs.

South Africa next host Bangladesh in two Tests, start­ing on Septem­ber 28, while In­dia and Aus­tralia will tour in early 2018.

Un­til this week it had been con­sid­ered un­likely De Vil­liers would re­turn to the Test arena with Du Plessis say­ing: “I would love AB to play but we’ve spent too much time talk­ing about when he is go­ing to come back.

“That hope is some­thing we need to move past, we need to find some­one else to ful­fill that role. If AB comes back it’s a huge bonus but I don’t ex­pect him to come back into the Test team.”

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