• Thunder rule out move for AB

    Defending Big Bash League champions Sydney Thunder have scrapped plans to approach AB de Villiers for their title defence next year after he committed himself to Test cricket.

    De Villiers’ future in the longest format of the game was in the headlines during the current series against England after it emerged he was considering retiring from Tests cricket to manage his workload better.

    However, after initially declining to commit himself to Tests beyond this series, he subsequently changed his tune and recommitted himself for the foreseeable future. De Villiers is the favourite to permanently replace Hashim Amla as captain after taking the reins on a temporary basis after the second Test in Cape Town.

    Sydney Thunder are looking for new recruits since skipper Michael Hussey has already stated that their three-wicket win over Melbourne Stars would be his last game on home soil, while legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis is increasingly unlikely to return next summer.

    Usman Khawaja, who almost single-handedly propelled the Thunder to the title late in the tournament, will likely be lost to national duties.

    Despite playing just four matches, he finished the tournament the second-highest scorer, with 345 runs at an average of 172.5 and with a strike rate of 163.5.

    In need of a big-name top order batsman, and likely to have room on their books for an international recruit as Kallis looks to bow out, the big-hitting De Villiers was sounded out by the Thunder.

    However Thunder general manager Nick Cummins said they had given up hope of seeing De Villiers in the lime green for BBL/06 after word came back that he would not be standing down from the Proteas.

    ‘AB is not retiring from international cricket in the next 12 months so he wouldn’t be available,’ Cummins told AAP.

    ‘Generally South Africans aren’t available because they have their international season the same time that we do. I wouldn’t expect that we’d see AB de Villiers playing in Australia in the Big Bash next summer.’

    Cummins said the Thunder’s recruitment plans hinged on whether Kallis returns but regardless recruiting a big-name top order batsman to replace Hussey remained their priority.

    With Shane Watson and Andre Russell signed for next year, the Thunder are not chasing an all-rounder to take Kallis’ place.

    Cummins described Kallis and Hussey as irreplaceable but said the club was active in the market and hoping to put pen to paper with a new recruit in the next few months.

    ‘If Jacques doesn’t continue, we’d look to use an international replacement,’ Cummins said. ‘There’s no other greatest all-rounder to ever play the game uncontracted at the moment.

    ‘We are trying to replace two players in Jacques and Mike who are irreplaceable. We need to put the names aside and look at what sort of quality players we need to get and go and get them. Because if we try to replace Mike Hussey we’re going to be wasting our time because such a replacement doesn’t exist.’

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