AB de Villiers. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEE WARREN
AB de Villiers. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEE WARREN

South African batting superstar AB de Villiers has signed a three-year bat sponsorship deal, believed to be worth in the region of R28m, with Indian tyre manufacturing firm MRF, writes Mahlatse Mphahlele

De Villiers‚ who is adored by millions of fans in that country‚ joins Indian batting powerhouses Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan as the company’s high-profile ambassadors, whose bats will display the MRF logo.

While the deal was signed some time ago‚ De Villiers has had to return to the negotiating table with the firm after he said he was realigning his workload and would not play too many matches in the future.

The tyre manufacturer wants him to play more games, but he has already missed the ODI and Test series against Australia‚ and the ODI series against New Zealand in 2016. He is also set to miss another series against New Zealand and Bangladesh in the coming months.

In the Test arena, it will be almost two years since he has played the longer format. His last appearance was against England at home in early 2016 with the next at the end of 2017.

"I am still negotiating that one. Obviously, they would like me to play as much cricket as possible around the world in all formats‚" De Villiers said

"For now‚ I still have to negotiate with them and see how we get around that. I am happy to be with them. It’s a great company and I’m looking forward to walk onto the field with the bat."

The company has in the past endorsed legendary players such as Sachin Tendulkar‚ Brian Lara‚ Steve Waugh and Gautam Gambhir.

De Villiers‚ who trained with the Proteas in Centurion on Wednesday ‚ returns to action after a long injury lay-off for Northerns against Easterns in a 50-over semiprofessional match at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Sunday.

"I am nervous before cricket games. After a break like this, you like to prove that you can still play the game and can still hit the ball well.

"I know there will be a lot of eyes on me and I would like to prove that I can still play. There is added pressure, but I have always played under pressure and I am motivated to do well in the match."

TMG Digital

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