Proteas

Domingo at peace with AB Test decision

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

Cape Town - Apparently, AB de Villiers was incredibly nervous before Wednesday's third T20I against Sri Lanka at Newlands. 

He hadn't played for the Proteas in seven months and had just dropped a bombshell on his country by announcing his limited availability in Test cricket, but it didn't take De Villiers long to win over the Cape Town crowd. 

He walked to the wicket at 36/1 and initially took his time, working the ball around as he accumulated 29 runs in his first 25 balls. 

By the time he had hit a Nuwan Kulasekara to backward point, De Villiers had moved to 63 from 44 balls. 

In that hour at the wicket, South Africa's ODI skipper reminded just how valuable a player he remains for this country. 

His return is fantastic news as preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy continues, but his unavailability for a four-Test England series in July will surely hurt South Africa's bid to get back to the top of the pile in that format. 

"He was nervous. It was almost as if he was playing his debut today," Domingo said of De Villiers' return to international cricket.

"He was very edgy, which is great as it shows how much it still means to perform. That’s exciting for us because it’s almost like a little rebirth for him after six months off."

After what seemed a difficult period for De Villiers up front, he soon found his feet and began to play with more freedom as he began to find the fence more regularly. 

He remains a serious talent - still one of the best in the world according to Domingo - but his unavailability for England is not all doom and gloom.

"The worst thing about it is that he’s not going to play for us. The best thing is that it gives everybody in the side a bit of peace of mind," Domingo said.

"They know what’s going on … there’s clarity. There’s nobody looking over their shoulder wondering if he’s going to be the one to go because AB is going back.

"It gives us a bit of breathing space for the batters to really knuckle down, focus on their game and not be too concerned about when AB de Villiers is coming back."

De Villiers' record in T20 cricket is nowhere near indicative of the quality he possesses. He carded just his 9th half-century in the format on Wednesday, taking his career average to 24.25. 

But it is on the ODI stage where the Proteas will want De Villiers to thrive most. The Champions Trophy looms, and he wants to make it through to the 2019 World Cup too. 

In that sense, Wednesday's knock was hugely encouraging.

"He played the situation really well today and we always wanted him to have a bit of time at the crease with the ODI series coming up. We’re just pleased that he’s got some runs behind his name and some time in the middle," Domingo added.

"He’s one of the best batters in the world and it’s great to have him back. It’s good to see him finding a little bit of form and looking fresh and hungry … it bodes well for the rest of our summer."

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