CHENNAI: South African batsman A.B. de Villiers said he is open to a return to international cricket at this year’s Twenty20 World Cup in India and will discuss his future with national coach Mark Boucher during the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The 37-year-old retired from international cricket in 2018 but said in April last year he would consider a comeback at the T20 World Cup if it was delayed by a year to 2021 due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
De Villiers — also a former South Africa captain — believes a call on his form and fitness would be discussed towards the business end of the Twenty20 tournament.
“We’re lined up to have a chat sometime during the IPL. But yes, we’ve been talking about it already,” de Villiers told reporters after scoring 76 for Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sunday’s 38-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders. “Last year, he [Boucher] asked me if I would be interested. I said, ‘absolutely’. And come the end of the IPL, we’ll have a look at where we’re 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 ... If there’s no space for me so be it. If I can slot in there, it’ll be fantastic if all those things fall in place.
“Coming into the IPL we will look at where we are with regards to my form, my fitness,” de Villiers said after being named man-of-the-match in Bangalore’s third successive win this season. “I am waiting for Boucher towards the end of IPL and then we will plan accordingly.”
De Villiers has also been in talks with former captain Graeme Smith, South Africa’s director of cricket, and Boucher to make a comeback to the T20 side.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled to played in India between October and November.
South Africa recently lost a One-day International (2-1) and Twenty20 International series (3-1) to Pakistan at home.
De Villiers has been in prolific form for Bangalore, led by Virat Kohli, who are searching for their first IPL title. He smashed nine fours and three sixes in his 34-ball blitz and put on a quickfire fifty-plus partnership with Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, who made 78, in Bangalore’s 204-4.
“I have never been an ego player who will go out there and say I am Mr.360, I am going to play all the shots in the book,” said de Villiers.
“I rather want to play the situation to the best of my ability. I think I did that well and always do it well.”
De Villiers has played 114 Tests, 228 One-day Internationals and 78 Twenty20 Internationals for the South Africa, scoring more than 20,000 runs across the three formats — including 1,672 runs in T20 Internationals at an average of 26.12 and strike rate of 135.16.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2021