South Africa news October 4, 2012

De Villiers in doubt for Australia tour


AB de Villiers will not play in the Champions League T20 and could be in doubt for South Africa's tour to Australia in November after he sustained a double injury blow at the World T20.

De Villiers' persistent lower back and left ankle problems have recurred and "need attention because either one could rule him out of the Australia series," according to Mohammed Moosajee, South African team manager, who is also a medical doctor.

"If we don't manage it properly, he could be out. His back and his ankle are worse than they were previously," Moosajee said. "If it wasn't a World Cup and he wasn't captain of the team, we would probably have made a decision to send him home earlier."

Moosajee confirmed both injuries have come back because of de Villiers' workload and the "volume of cricket we played over the last three and a half months". Despite the diagnosis de Villiers was defiant that he was not being overburdened and would not even mind curtailing his career if it allowed him to continue doing captaining the limited-overs sides, batting in the middle order and taking the gloves.

"I am enjoying the captaincy so much, it's something I wouldn't like to give up," he said. "Batting for the team and taking the gloves for the side, knowing the position I am playing in is better for the side and we can win more games, that gives me a lot of pleasure. If I miss out on a year at the end of my career so be it but we should win games."

De Villiers did concede on one area, though: that he needs some breaks but cannot, and does not want to take any. "It's something we will have to discuss. Maybe a bit of rest time here and there which is difficult because I am captain of two of the teams and I wouldn't like to miss any Tests."

The last four months are a good case study for what an extended workload will do to de Villiers' fitness. He was one of the members of the South African squad who has been on tour since July and plays across all three formats. He did not miss a single match and the seriousness of his injuries show for it.

De Villiers donning the gloves was always suspected to be a problem because of what Moosajee calls his "chronic" lower back issues. But, when Mark Boucher's career was freakishly ended - injured in South Africa's first moments on the field in England, in a tour match at Taunton - de Villiers was the emergency replacement. He kept for all three Tests and his batting suffered and he did not score a single half-century. He also took the gloves in the one-day and T20 series and for the entire duration of the World T20.

Combined, that amount of cricket resulted in his back issue returning. "The more you play, the higher the chances are of it flaring up and then you've got to manage it," Moosajee said. "That's where the physio comes in with the treatment and this time treatment hasn't allowed it to heal substantially."

His current injury "generally" needs a three or four week recovery period but the exact amount of time will only be known after de Villiers has seen the specialist. Even if he is fit enough to go to Australia, he will need monitoring and the possibility of the injury recurring will always remain.

South Africa do have other options, though. Thami Tsolekile was contracted in March, when Boucher announced his decision to retire after the England tour, and so became the successor. He was called up to England when Boucher returned home and played in tour matches at Worcester and Derby but did not play in a single Test.

Tsolekile's batting is thought to be the reason he was left out but he has made strides in that department. In the first two fixtures of the domestic season, Tsolekile scored 43 and 70 for the Lions franchise and everyone from former national wicketkeeper Ray Jennings to franchise coach Geoffrey Toyana says he is ready for Test cricket again.

He is certain to be included in the squad to Australia and there was talk that he would make his comeback against New Zealand at home in December, but that may be fast-tracked. With Jacques Rudolph not showing any great form at No. 6, JP Duminy may be moved up the order for Tsolekile to slot at No. 7 and South Africa could go back to a six specialist batsmen strategy.

De Villiers' home franchise, the Titans, will also have to look for a replacement and they will not have too much to choose from. He was the only international player available for them after Morne Morkel, Albie Morkel and Faf du Plessis chose to play for their IPL franchises instead. The Titans are also without quick Marchant de Lange who is still in the final stages of recovery from lower back spasms and is also unlikely to be fit for the tour to Australia.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rob on October 7, 2012, 22:54 GMT

    AB should never wear the gloves again in any form of international cricket. Being a leading (superb) batsman + the skipper in limited over games is quite enough. Step forward Vilas, Kuhn or maybe De Kock. Van Wyk would be a better short term option than Tsolekile who will never score a run at international level and is already too old.

  • greig on October 7, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    Too much pointless T20 cricket for AB. The thing with AB is he will never say say 'No' I cant do it for my country. He needs to start saying no and stop keeping. Very simple solution, Tsolkele to keep for the test team and bats 7. De Kock to keep in ODIs and T20s. AB to captain ODIs and Johan Botha to captain T20.

  • Prashan on October 6, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Well SA batting will be weaker sans AB De Villiers. But SA bowling will play a big part. Looking forward to an exciting test series.

  • Dummy4 on October 5, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    abd wants to be hero and he is ending up being zero. its not possible r extremely difficult to be a specialist batsman, wkt keeper, captain. he shouldn't continue wkt keeping. because of his act sa lost to england in odi n lost in t20 wc. now days he simply can't score. team mgt must look into this. it was very much obvious that he would suffer and exactly happening this.

  • Ross on October 5, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    de Kock currently leads the run tally in the Sunfoil Series after his 194 against the Cobras. He made the most runs for SA at the Under 19 World Cup (4th overall). Tsolekile is almost 32. In a first-class career of 189 innings he has only made four 100s at an average of less than 30. de Kock is 19. His first-class career is only 23 innings. He also has four 100s, but at an average over 60. I agree his game is still developing, but at least he makes runs, and at a fair clip. I'm not expecting him to open in tests yet, but he's the use denying it.

  • Blessing on October 5, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    @jonesy2-SA dont have a keeper!!!??? I reckon Qiunton De Kock and Heino Khun (who play in the SA dometic arena) can easily replace boucher if given the chance esp. the young De Kock(20), who can be a SA version of a Adam Gilcrist in the future.

  • Dummy4 on October 5, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    It was always going to happen. Saf must must find someone else to keep wicket.

  • David on October 5, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    This from an Aussie looking forward to a great test series, AB is a wonderful batsman who can keep. Any really good fielder can keep but the Saffa's need his batting at its best to win the series. Pick a specialist keeper and save AB to bat.

  • Q on October 5, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    One of the Joy's of becoming No1 in any of the formats! Once you are at the Top lady luck stops singing, Similar issues have cropped up in the not so distant past, when India reached the No1 status in tests & won the WC, the core team members got injured & were humiliated in England. England were humiliated once they reached the top in UAE but for more cricketing reasons (English palyers cant play spin), Now when SA are on Top they were humiliated in the T20 WC & now the illness may well spread to the test team (Now that they dont have Wicket keeper & the middle order looks weak with AB). Its good to chase for that No1 spot & not so good to be chased!

  • VENKATACHALAM on October 5, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Spare AB De Villiers from the pointless bilateral ODIs. He is too valuable an asset for SA and World cricket to lose.

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