We round up the series going on in UAE and South Africa
RENEWED freedom was the sense in which AB de Villiers played his way to one of the best ODI knocks of 2017, fresh from relinquishing the shackles of captaincy.
De Villiers’ 176 from 104 balls at Boland Park, Paarl, was a twohour long flash of sky gazing and awe.
Destructive against a Bangladesh attack which saw only Rubel Hossain (4-62) and Shakib Al-Hasan (2-60) claim wickets, De Villiers admitted there was an initial feeling of insecurity when settling into an innings in which he went on to score 15 boundaries and seven sixes.
“I was still nervous,” the South African said. "It took me an over or so to remember I had a good net in Kimberley and I am in good form. I had to remind myself that I am hitting the ball well.
“It was great to be out there with Hashim, he has a very calming influence. I am hitting the ball as well as ever. I just spent a bit of time out there and then some of the boundaries kept flowing.”
Andile Phehlukwayo was the pick of the bowlers with 4-40 from his ten overs, as the Proteas bowled the chasing tourists all out for 249.
An all-round positive performance from a team that De Villiers went as bold as to say would continue progressing under ‘one of the best leaders we’ve ever had in this country’ in captain Faf du Plessis. De Villiers spoke of his return to international cricket after stepping down as ODI captain and taking an extended break from the demands of his workload earlier this year.
“The feeling is still very similar, even though I’m not captain,” said De Villiers on being back playing.
“Faf and I have come a long way together. We know each other’s game out there really well and I support him as captain like he did for me when I was captain.
“I’ve had a long run as captain and some fantastic ‘ups’ and quite a few ‘lows' in between. I’ve captained for five or six years and I just felt that it was enough.
“I wanted to enjoy the last few years of my career.”
Speaking of his team-mate and close friend Du Plessis, De Villiers added: “I’m 33-years-old and I know Faf is capable. He is going to be one of the best leaders we’ve ever had in this country ... he could be the best. We're going to give him all the support he can get.”
His high regard for Du Plessis was not the only factor behind his decision to perform a u-turn and make himself available across all three formats for South Africa, as De Villiers alluded to the appointment of Ottis Gibson’s as Proteas head coach.
“I needed a couple of months away with the family and then Ottis made contact. I had met him before he was announced coach and I knew he was a great guy. He wanted to know where I was headed with my career and I told him I wanted to get back in the side.”
De Villiers could make a first Test appearance since January 2016 when Zimbabwe are welcomed to St George’s Park on Boxing Day.
Stunning: South Africa’s AB de Villiers hit a wonderful 176 off just 104 deliveries