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07 December 2023

AB de Villiers confirms 'bit of truth' in retirement rumours

South Africa's captain AB de Villiers plays a shot during the fifth one day international (ODI) cricket match between India and South Africa at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on October 25, 2015. AFP


ew South African captain AB de Villiers said Wednesday he was fully committed to leading the team in the next two Tests against England, but confirmed there was “a bit of truth” in rumours he was considering retirement.

“For two or three years I've been searching for the right answers to play a little less cricket in one way or another, to keep myself fresh and enjoying the game,” he said.

De Villiers, 31, admitted: “Every now and then I find I am not enjoying myself as much as I should be. I've been talking to a few people and obviously that's leaked.”

De Villiers was speaking ahead of the third Test against England which starts at the Wanderers Stadium on Thursday - the first time he has spoken directly to journalists since an article appeared in a local newspaper claiming he was thinking of quitting.

“I'm still very committed to the job,” he said. “The two Test matches now is all that I am focusing on. There's a nice big break of six months before we play Test cricket again. Lots of things can happen before then. But for now I am as committed as I can be and very hungry to make a success of these two Test matches.”

De Villiers acknowledged that big-money T20 tournaments around the world were tempting for players.

“I think it's a going concern for the ICC (International Cricket Council) to find the right sort of structure to keep all the guys fresh. International cricket is the main cricket you want to play, especially Test cricket.

“There are big tournaments going on around the world and some of them you can't ignore because financially they make a huge difference in our lives.

“But international cricket comes first and one or two things will have to happen in the future in order for that to happen.”

De Villiers said although he hoped to instil his own brand of energy into the team, the atmosphere in the camp remained “normal” following the resignation of Hashim Amla as captain after the second Test last week.

“I'm very excited but we've got a very stable team culture so not much has changed in the team set-up.”

He said being 1-0 down in the four-match series added to the pressure “to make a play” but said he looked forward to the challenge and said that extra responsibility made him feel more motivated.

“The nice thing about captaincy is you are completely focused on the team. Your personal performance is put aside and that is a good thing, more often than not,” he said.

De Villiers said he felt there had been a momentum shift when South Africa fought back for a draw in the second Test in Cape Town.

“I've played enough series to know that a little momentum shift like that doesn't just happen. It's a big thing in a big series so it's up to us to make sure that we maintain that kind of momentum.”

He said he had looked at the Wanderers pitch and although it seemed drier than usual following a drought, he expected a fair contest between bat and ball.

“That excites me because we haven't had much of that in the past few months.”

De Villiers said going in with four seam bowlers and no specialist spinner was an option because there were part-time spinners in the squad.

In addition, he hinted that home-town fast bowler, the strongly-built Hardus Viljoen, 26, might win his first Test cap.

“He excites me quite a lot. He bowls at very good pace, has got good control and has taken 10 wickets in two matches in a row for his franchise team.”