AB de Villiers has confirmed that he is fully fit for the Zimbabwe Test, while Chris Morris is yet to recover from a groin strain he picked up in the Ram Slam T20 final.
De Villiers missed the South Africa Invitational XI’s victory over Zimbabwe due to a stiff lower back but he told the media on Saturday that he is ready to return to the longest format after two years away.
The 33-year-old comes into a historic match at the newly refurbished St Georges Park – the first pink-ball four-day Test, which starts on Boxing Day.
‘I pride myself on the fact that I can adapt to certain conditions and formats,’ he explained.
‘I have worked hard on my game over the last six months. I started in July facing red balls at the University of Pretoria, getting some technical stuff sorted out, I feel more ready than ever to take it on.
‘I faced a few pink balls here last night on a spicy wicket, it was really tough. Then again it’s a great challenge, it’s the ultimate form of the game, it’s the greatest challenge to come out on top when the ball is moving around a bit.’
He added that there is not much difference between the four-day and five-day game, and the pink and red ball.
‘It has always been my theory that there isn’t a massive difference between the formats,’ he said.
‘It’s a mindset, a little tweak here and there. You have to have more patient with the red ball but you still have to play cricket strokes, it’s not like you are playing rugby, it is still cricket. As long as you respect the conditions, sum up what is going on in a match situation, you can make it work.’
De Villiers returns to the venue where he made his Test debut nearly 13 years ago, and insists he is hungrier than ever to make contributions in the format. The match signals the start of an important summer at home for the Test squad, with visits from India and Australia providing the platform for a thorough assessment of the squad.
‘I want to contribute,’ he said of his motivation. ‘I want to play knocks, have my say in the field with my experience and take some catches that can win games of cricket. We would like to be No 1 in the world, we are not far away.
‘We know if we win a few series in the next three months against tough opposition we can achieve that. We will take it one step at a time, that will be nice to achieve, to be the No 1 team in the world and to maintain it for a few years.’
CSA also confirmed that Duanne Olivier has been added to the squad following the injury to Morris.
Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (Titans, capt), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Temba Bavuma (Cape Cobras), Quinton de Kock (Titans), Theunis de Bruyn (Knights), AB de Villiers (Titans), Dean Elgar (Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Titans), Morne Morkel (Titans), Duanne Olivier (Knights), Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins), Vernon Philander (Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions), Dale Steyn (Titans).
Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images