AB de Villiers in talks about international comeback
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South African legend says talks are ongoing about him returning to the Proteas side for this year's T20 World Cup.
South African legend says talks are ongoing about him returning to the Proteas side for this year's T20 World Cup.

SOUTH African legend AB de Villiers has again floated the prospect of making an international comeback for this year’s T20 World Cup, more than three years since he last played for the Proteas.

It comes as the country’s sports minister said he had “no option” but to become directly involved in Cricket South Africa’s affairs, which could jeopardise their standing with the International Cricket Council.

De Villiers, 37, retired from international cricket in 2018 but remains one of the most destructive T20 batsmen in the world and was in full flight on Sunday, slamming an unbeaten 76 off 34 balls for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.

He had planned to return to the international arena last year for the T20 World Cup in Australia before the event was postponed due to the pandemic.

But he confirmed on Sunday that he and Proteas coach Mark Boucher will soon discuss the prospect of a comeback for this year’s World Cup in India.

“We are lined up to have a chat sometime during the IPL,” he said. “But yes, we’ve been talking about it already.

“Last year, he asked me if I would be interested. And I said, ‘absolutely’. And come the end of the IPL, we will have a look at where we are at with regards to my form and my fitness.

“Also, the situation with his team – he’s got to look at his guys who have been performing well over the last while. If there’s no space for me, so be it. If I can slot in there, it will be fantastic if all those things fall in place.”

Before the pandemic, Boucher had said that de Villiers would need to make himself available to return the national set-up before the World Cup in order to be re-integrated back into the side.

South Africa are scheduled to play white-ball cricket in Ireland in June while there have also been reports about tours of the Caribbean and Sri Lanka for T20s ahead of the World Cup.

Speaking last week, Boucher confirmed he would continue to speak with de Villiers about a comeback.

“I did chat to him before he went to the IPL,” he said. “The conversation is still very much open.

“AB, being the person he is, wants to perform very well at the IPL to prove to himself and everyone else that he is still a very key figure in world cricket and could dominate at that level.

“I said to him: ‘Go do your thing, and I’ll give you a shout towards the back-end of the IPL.’ So that is where we are with him.”

Despite players like Faf du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Chris Morris being in high demand in global T20 leagues around the world, the Proteas are winless from their past six T20 series and haven’t won a T20 series in more than two years.

Meanwhile, South African Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa has warned CSA could be stripped of its status of the sport’s governing body as part of a long-running dispute over the administration’s structure.

Government officials have the power under the nation’s Sport’s Act to strip CSA of its power and remove all funding.

Such a move could in turn raise the ire of the ICC, which forbids government interference and suspended Zimbabwe Cricket in 2018 after a similar intervention from that country’s government.

In a statement, Mthethwa said he “will be taking the necessary steps required to exercise his rights in terms of the law prescripts next week”.(Cricket.com.au)

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