AB de Villiers. Picture: REUTERS/ MIKE HUTCHINGS
AB de Villiers. Picture: REUTERS/ MIKE HUTCHINGS

Former SA batting superstar AB de Villiers has stated his intention to return to the national team but says there is a lot that needs to happen before he makes a final decision.

De Villiers’s return to the national team has been a talking point since Mark Boucher’s appointment as the Proteas team director in late 2019.

De Villiers represented the national team in all formats from December 2004 until May 2018, when he announced his retirement from all formats.

It was reported he wanted to return to the national team ahead of  the disastrous 2019 Cricket World Cup sojourn in England. That move‚ though‚ was red-flagged by Cricket SA’s management ahead of the tournament.

Speaking to cricket.com.au after a match-winning contribution for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League in Australia‚ De Villiers said conversations have been taking place‚ but there are a few details outstanding.

There is also the matter of being in form.

“There’s a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality,” but he added that he “would love to”.

He said he had been talking to Boucher‚ new director of cricket Graeme Smith and captain Faf du Plessis and “we’re all keen to make it happen.

“It’s a long way away still‚ and plenty can happen — there’s the IPL [Indian Premier League] coming up‚ I’ve still got to be in form at that time.

“So I’m thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping that everything will work out. It’s not a guarantee‚ once again.

“I don’t want to disappoint myself or other people‚ so for now I’m just going to try to keep a low profile‚ try and play the best possible cricket that I can and then see what happens towards the end of the year.”

According to De Villiers‚ a change of management at Cricket SA may have pushed him in the right direction.

When De Villiers retired‚ former West Indian international Ottis Gibson was the head coach, while the organisation was headed by the now suspended CEO officer Thabang Moroe.

Titans CEO Jacques Faul is now Cricket SA’s acting CEO, while former teammates Boucher and Smith are at the helm of player affairs.

De Villiers said their presence could ease his return‚ but he understands there is still a lot of admin work that will have to go into facilitating his return.

“There are a lot of players [involved with Cricket SA] who I used to play with‚ guys who understand the game‚ leaders of the team for many years.

“So it’s much easier to communicate than it used to be. They understand what players go through — especially players that have played for 15 years internationally‚” De Villiers said.

“It doesn’t mean that everything is going to be sunshine and roses‚ but it’s definitely a lot easier and it feels comfortable‚ the language that’s being used and just the feel that everyone has at the moment in SA about the cricket.”

While there is a school of thought in SA’s broader cricket public that Boucher‚ Smith and batting consultant Jacques Kallis are a continuation of an “old-boys clique” that existed when all of them were players‚ De Villiers told cricket.com.au he was happy to see them involved with the national team.

“They’re my friends and I played 10-plus years with them internationally. We’ve been through a lot and it’s great to have them involved again‚ and as I said‚ hopefully I’ll be involved again as well pretty soon‚” De Villiers said.

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