AB de Villiers has cast renewed doubt over his Test future by only committing to the current series against England.
De Villiers, speaking at his press conference ahead of the third Test at the Wanderers, said he is fully committed to the current series against England but offered no assurances about his future beyond the next two Tests, admitting for the past three years he has not always enjoyed the game.
He also warned the ICC about the workload of international players.
Rumours of De Villiers’ plans to retire from Test cricket emerged during the first Test, something he never denied. Instead he used the opportunity to talk about managing his workload, especially after he was again asked to take the wicketkeeping gloves.
It had the desired affect as Quinton de Kock was included in the squad and started at Newlands, but it doesn’t seem to have guaranteed De Villiers’ commitment to Tests.
‘There have been a few rumours floating around and in most rumours there is always a little bit of truth,’ De Villiers said in his first press conference since taking over from Hashim Amla as South Africa captain.
‘It is not just in the last while, in the last two or three years I’ve been searching for the right answers to play a little bit less cricket in one way or another to keep myself fresh and to keep enjoying the game.
‘I’ve found myself on the pitch in the past few years, every now and then, not enjoying myself as much as I should be and that raises concerns within myself. I’m still very committed. To the job I’m not sure. Obviously the two Test matches for now is all I’m focusing on, and there is a nice six-month break before we play Test match cricket again.
‘Lots of things can happen before then and I don’t want to commit myself too much to everything before then, but for now I’m as committed as I can be and I’m very hungry to make a success of the next two Test matches.’
De Villiers would be a huge loss to international cricket and may cause other high profile players to follow his lead. Players can earn a lot more money these days with the various T20 leagues around the world. De Villiers would be one of the most in-demand players if he chose to go that way.
‘I think it is an ongoing concern for ICC,’ De Villiers said. ‘They have been talking about it for the last few years to find a way of keeping everyone fresh. Test cricket is the main format and we all want to be part of that. Huge traditions and culture in this format but I truly believe there are one or two areas where we can improve and the guys keep their focus int he right place.
‘There are big tournaments going on around the world at the moment and some of them you cannot ignore because financially they do make a huge difference in our lives. Obviously you have to look after that side of it as well. This kind of cricket comes first. International cricket is the main one you want to play and one or two things will have to change in the future in order for that to happen.
‘There has been plenty of surveys in the last few years. I have seen some changes in the past. There are still one or two that need to get attention from the ICC. One of those is the schedules for the more senior guys to make sure they keep their focus in the right places. I don’t know what the answers are. I can’t make a statement. All I know is there are quite a few guys feeling we are playing a bit too much cricket and just need to get the focus right.
‘I have got some good people around me and people who have my best interest at heart. We will just try and make the right call. My focus is on international cricket. I want to play for as long as possible. I have dreams of winning World Cups and No 1 status in Test cricket for as long as possible. I want to get my experience across to the youngsters. There are so many dreams I would want to follow again I would just like to sit down, take some time away form the game, discuss these things and make the right call.’