AB de Villiers still open to Proteas return, identifies 2021 IPL as key

AB de Villiers (Gallo)
AB de Villiers (Gallo)

Former Proteas Test, ODI and T20 captain AB de Villiers says he remains open for a return to the national set-up next year.

The 36-year-old, who last represented his country in early 2018, has been in superb form in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

Reports of a possible return to the South African national side had started long before the IPL, though, and even before global cricket was shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

With T20 World Cups now scheduled for India in 2021 and then Australia in 2022, De Villiers has become an increasingly attractive option in the game's shortest format. 

De Villiers smashed an unbeaten 73* (33) on Monday night that included six sixes as RCB carded 194/2 against the Kolkata Knight Riders to set up a comfortable win. 

It was another startling reminder of just how good he is and how much it hurt not having him available for the 2019 World Cup in England last year. 

De Villiers has now hit three half-centuries at this year's IPL and while he has scored a healthy 228 runs in the competition at an average of 57.00, the most impressive return is his staggering strike rate of 185.36

Speaking to Netwerk24 in an article published on Wednesday morning, De Villiers confirmed that there was "definitely a possibility" of a return, but that he would get closer to that decision next year. 

The 2021 IPL will take place over April and May, and De Villiers will use that tournament as a benchmark of where he is with the World Cup in India scheduled for November. 

"I still don't have plans beyond the current IPL," De Villiers said, before turning his attention to next year's tournament. 

"In my opinion, that tournament will be a test. I expect to hear from [Proteas coach, Mark Boucher] Bouch around that time, or just before the tournament, to hear if they are still interested in making me part of their plans.

"I still have to hit the ball well and in April/May 2021 I still have to be one of the best in the world. I need to be fit, in mind and in body. A lot of things need to fall into place."

Based on current form, it is difficult to imagine a situation where De Villiers would not be an attractive for Boucher and the Proteas in their efforts to win a first ICC World Cup next year. 

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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