TELFORD VICE, Johannesburg
AB de Villiers has ruled himself out of South Africa’s test series in New Zealand in March, and although he still wants to play the longest format his focus is on white-ball cricket.
“I’m not there yet,” De Villiers said at the launch of the Pink Drive at the Wanderers on Tuesday when asked when he would return to test cricket.
“I need a bit of time just to settle things in my head.
“For me the goal is the 2019 World Cup – I want to lift that trophy.
“So I’ve made unavailable for the tests in New Zealand.
“I will be there for the one-day internationals, and I’m definitely not retiring from test cricket because I have plans to come back at some stage.
“Obviously there are other factors that play a role like family and time away from home, but the main reason for me is that World Cup and I feel that if I play all formats all the time, then mentally and physically I won’t be at my best.”
De Villiers has played 106 tests in which he has scored 8 074 runs at an average of 50.46.
Many of those runs have come in innings supporters of exciting batting will never forget, especially the 21 centuries and 39 half-centuries he has scored.
He is South Africa’s leading run-scorer among current players and third on the all-time list behind Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith.
But De Villiers has been out of action since June with an elbow injury that required surgery.
“I need another degree or two (of movement in the elbow) but that will come in the next few weeks. I’m coming back in the third T20 (against Sri Lanka on January 25) in Cape Town, and I’m very excited for the one-day series (which starts on January 28).
South Africa have coped admirably in De Villiers’ absence, winning test series against New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka, and beating the Aussies 5-0 in an ODI rubber.
In the midst of all that De Villiers resigned the test captaincy, though he remains in charge of the one-day side.
“I missed a lot of important deliveries, which I’m irritated about, while I was turning the chops on the braai,” De Villiers said.
“I watched most of the cricket – just because I was sat on the sidelines didn’t mean that I was going to ignore my boys.
“They did extremely well and I’m so proud of what they have achieved over the past few months.”
Clearly, de Villiers wanted to part of those achievements.
“I want to be there all the time,” he said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than walking out onto the cricket field knowing that you’re representing a very proud nation with such great tradition and history and culture.
“I just love playing for my country. It’s very difficult to turn down a game.”
De Villiers revealed that “baby number two is on the way” for him and his wife, Danielle.
“I’m 32 and things have changed; that’s part of life,” he said.
“Hopefully I make the best possible decisions for my career and my family going forward.
“But the best way for me to end my career will be with that World Cup trophy in my backyard.”
Farhaan Behardien, who will captain South Africa in their T20 series against Sri Lanka that starts in Centurion on Friday, put the phenomenon that is De Villiers into perspective.
“I don’t think he’s played a game in six months and he’s still the best ODI batsman in the world,” Behardien said.
“I don’t know how that happens.”
De Villiers’ most recent ODI was against West Indies in Bridgetown on June 24.
Since then 65 matches have been played in the format in 13 countries around the world.
And no-one has yet been able to knock de Villiers off the top spot.