Pain won’t stop de Villiers’ crusade
FORMER South African skipper Johan Botha predicts brilliant keeperbatsman and good mate A.B. de Villiers will endure any pain to deny Australia the No.1 Test ranking.
De Villiers assumed the gloves from long- serving Proteas keeper Mark Boucher in a 2-0 series defeat of England this winter that sealed Test supremacy.
However, a heavy Test and one- day workload in England, followed by the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka this month, caught up with de Villiers, aggra- vating left ankle and lower back ailments.
‘‘I think he is a world-class player and when you lose guys like that, it is always big. He will be around if he looks after himself in the next few weeks,’’ said Botha, who counted de Villiers among his confidantes before retiring from international duty after the World T20 to join South Australia.
‘‘They have two weeks before they come here.’’
Though Jacques Kallis is the premier all-rounder, de Villiers offers the same value as great Australian keeper Adam Gilchrist.
The 28- year- old has scored 5618 runs at 48.85 in 77 Tests.
South African coach Gary Kirsten can’t resist de Villiers’ versatility.
It allows the inclusion at No.7 of J.P. Duminy, who averaged 61 f or Graeme Smith’s history- making, victorious 2008 Test unit in Australia.
‘‘He has been in the team about seven years and is very experienced but starting to struggle a little bit,’’ conceded Botha, who preceded de Villiers as Twenty20 skipper and won eight of 10 games as one-day captain from 2008-10.
South Africa’s A.B. de Villiers.