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AB de Villiers' national team return gathers more speed

AB de Villiers' return to international cricket with the Proteas is almost a done deal.
AB de Villiers' return to international cricket with the Proteas is almost a done deal.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Project get AB de Villiers back in the national team ahead of next year's T20 Cricket World Cup is in full swing.

Proteas Test captain Faf du Plessis, who captained the Paarl Rocks successfully in the Mzansi Super League final against the Tshwane Spartans on Monday evening, confirmed this while he basked in the glow of the trophy success.

De Villiers retired midway last year, leaving then coach Ottis Gibson and convenor of selectors Linda Zondi in the lurch in regards with his replacement.

After South Africa's bad Cricket World Cup start that didn't improve, reports of De Villiers wanting to return to the national team shortly before the tournament started emerged.

The request was turned down by the Proteas' management but the current management group led by new team director Mark Boucher and director of cricket Graeme Smith is far more amenable to De Villiers coming back.

Unlike his last minute request this year after retiring in May 2018, there's enough time for De Villiers to get back to grips with international cricket after his absence.

“There's nothing wrong with that and people expect AB to play and I'm no different. Those conversations have been happening two to three months ago.

"T20 cricket is a different beast and you don't spend a lot of time away from home whereas in a full campaign, you have to get stuck in and spend time on the road,” Du Plessis said.

Test cricket now is the most important thing, but so is the T20 World Cup. It's not too far away and there aren't like 20 T20's in the season, which means its not that hard on an individual. The conversations are already taking place before the next T20 series starts.”

Du Plessis, who masterminded a near-flawless MSL campaign with the Rocks, who comfortably dispatched the Spartans, is also open to continuing his limited overs career despite the dispiriting Cricket World Cup campaign he was part of.

Du Plessis was left out of the T20 squad that held India to a 1-all draw in a three-match series in India at the end of September.

Quinton de Kock was in charge of that group, but Du Plessis is happy with other players taking charge as he understands the need to blood new leadership.

As I've said in other engagements, I'm motivated to lead in all the formats and that hasn't changed. It's about taking it season by season and that's what I want to do.

"There's also importance of using other captains in this process over the next year when there's an opportunity to use other guys,” Du Plessis said.

There'll be a time when other guys need to take over and there's a great opportunity to do it in small series.

"It might be ODI or T20 cricket, but the key is to expose the younger guys to learn. That's going to be very important in the next year.

"We didn't have that when Graeme Smith retired but there's window now where guys can learn and be exposed so when they're ready, they can step up.”