• Morkel denies AB rumour

    Morne Morkel has denied a report that AB de Villiers could retire from Test cricket after the England series.

    Sunday newspaper Rapport speculated on Sunday that De Villiers, along with teammates Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, could soon retire from Test cricket, maybe even as soon as the end of the current England series.

    The newspaper claims several of De Villiers’ current and former teammates revealed to them ‘events in recent years have led him to seriously reconsider his Test future,’ but Morkel indicated that was not the case.

    ‘I think it is a story. He is still very keen to play for South Africa and to break records,’ Morkel said after being asked about the story at the press conference after the second day’s play at Kingsmead.

    He did not go into any further detail about the newspaper’s claims which cited the selection controversy at the 2015 World Cup – in which Vernon Philander was picked for the semi-final XI, ahead of in-form Kyle Abbott, despite carrying a hamstring injury for most of the tournament – as one of the incidents which has contributed to what the publication called De Villiers’ ‘unhappiness,’ with the current South African set-up.

    Apparently Philander is considering playing more county cricket in England while Steyn could make the England series his last. Morkel was not asked about the mindset of his fellow bowlers.

    De Villiers has been under massive pressure in 2015 and has carried the team’s batting line-up in both Test and ODI cricket ever since the World Cup. He scored 49 on day two of the first Test against England on Sunday and again looked way more comfortable in the middle than any of his fellow teammates.

    He has also been given the extra burden of taking the wicketkeeping gloves for the first two Tests, which allows South Africa to play an extra specialist batsman.

    On the evidence of what has transpired in Durban so far, the Proteas need all the batsmen they can get.

    De Villiers is only 31 years old and starting to peak as a batsman, which is a scary thought considering the year he’s had with the bat.

    Last week he was crowned as the ICC’s ODI Player of the Year for the second successive year and is on the brink of reaching 8 000 Test runs in the series against England.

    With Quinton de Kock continuing to perform well in domestic cricket, it should be a matter of time before he comes back into the Test picture, which will ease De Villiers’ workload.

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