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De Villiers in doubt for Australia tour

Firdose Moonda

October 4, 2012

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

AB de Villiers takes a catch during wicketkeeping practice, Canterbury, July 12, 2012
AB de Villiers' extra work behind the stumps has caused injuries to flare up © Getty Images

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

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Posted by Robster1 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.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa 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.

Posted by Sinhaya 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by Nuxxy 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.

Posted by 2nd_Slip 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.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

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

Posted by MrPud 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.

Posted by Cric_whiz 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!

Posted by venkatesh018 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.

Posted by jonesy2 on (October 5, 2012, 4:59 GMT)

the number 1 side in the world dont have a wicketkeeper? if i was a SA supporter i would be furious at the fact that de villiers has been and continues to keep wickets. although its good for australia if he doesnt tour it would be nice to beat a 100% full strength proteas side

Posted by Chris_P on (October 5, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

I really hope he gets over his injury. It is far better to view the best players about & this guy is a credit to South African cricket.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (October 5, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

Why are so many people repeating this unsubstantiated bull about Jaques Kallis "reaching the end of his career" and being "on his way out!" He is stronger and fitter than most, and still unmatched by any other player in the world. He plays year round - IPL and all formats for SA - still bowling quicker and better than guys 15 years younger than him, like Australia's latest mediocre trundler, Mitchell Starc. Kallis is just getting better and better as the years roll on, and has the HIGHEST test batting average over the last 3 years. He has said that he intends to play until at least the 2015 world cup, and then he'll decide how long he wants to keep playing. Basil D'Oliveira made his test DEBUT at 38 (the records say 35, but by his own admission he was 38) and played for another seven years! I would not be surprised to see Kallis play for another seven. Never underestimate the King, and never start counting him out! He'll probably outlast AB!

Posted by satish619chandar on (October 5, 2012, 3:29 GMT)

ABD's batting has been affected massively by the huge increase in the workload. It is very much evident. SA should look at way to utilise the maximum of the players potential by leaving out the job to the best available. I did support ABD keeping in England tests as it would give them extra batting option which eventually bailed them a couple of times with decent knocks. But when it comes to long term plan, ABD as batsman is more needed than ABD as captain or wk. SA need to have another look in to their strategy to make ABD do everything. ABD is not Dhoni in the way that his batting is more needed for SA.

Posted by Dashgar on (October 5, 2012, 3:10 GMT)

Trouble in paradise. Suddenly South Africa are a shambles.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2012, 2:02 GMT)

3. if the spectators @ the SCG jeered Kohli till he flipped them the bird after a few beers They should have a good time making up taunts for Quinton de Kock if he plays as keeper.

Posted by Shongololo on (October 5, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

Agree that it's time to blood the best wicketkeeper in the country, Quinton de Kock. After all, if he's good enough, he's old enough - and he is way better with the gloves, also with the bat, than any other keeper in South Africa. I feel for Tsolekile but if the wreck that was the T20 World Cup taught us anything, it's that we must pick the best team. Levi and Berhardien, A.Morkel and Parnell, should never have been in the squad.

Posted by shafi ahmed on (October 4, 2012, 22:31 GMT)

This champion trophy seems like joke. Most players are injured and prefer money over country. I dont know which team to support. How come there is no team from bpl and so many teams from ipl

Posted by SRI_crickethunter on (October 4, 2012, 19:35 GMT)

SA has a no of good wicketkeeper but they have not select them beacause of colour a wicketkeeper like tsolekile(very odinary player with poor techique with bat,Also u get a chance to see his batting skill in CLT20 play for hiveld lion) get the nod for selection instade the like of HENIO KHUN,DANE VILAS.Henio khun is a const performer in SA domestic for last 5 session with a career avg of 46.37.The selector has take some dicission which is best for cricket

Posted by funkyandy on (October 4, 2012, 19:26 GMT)

The news I always feared. Cricket took a backward step with the best fielder since Jonty Rhodes putting the gloves on - and the demands on his body are taking serious effect. AB probably didn't keep wicket regularly as a kid (cos he was probably a brilliant fielder!), so his body muscles weren't exposed to all that up-down-crouching thing that keepers constantly do. Just get him fit for the Aussie tests - and pick someone else to keep (not de Kock - away to Aus no way to debut when you're only 19!)

Posted by Beertjie on (October 4, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

Mostly spot-on, @Unomaas. More harm than good will come from rushing Quinton. But his batting will be needed sooner rather than later. JK is reaching the end of an outstanding career, so as soon as he gains sufficient experience (when?) he should be granted an opportunity. Best of luck to Thami in the meantime! I hope Faf, too,gets a shot some time.

Posted by RandyOZ on (October 4, 2012, 18:01 GMT)

AB is probably thanking his lucky stars he doesnt have to face Starc. It's not easy runs on offer as if was against England.

Posted by Unomaas on (October 4, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

With AB wicket keeping, the dyanamics of the Saffer test side could have became legendary :(. Anyways, the question is who drops out to make space for the specialist keeper? JP should definitely get the nod! In the last 2-3 years he has gained a level of maturity to his game (wonder if its a result of him getting married?). His part time spin also comes in handy. Rudolf should be dropped and FAF should be integrated into the team so that JP knows their is someone breathing down his neck. Rudolph should go back to county and fix his game as an opener and compete with Peterson for the opener spot. As for the keeper, Thami deserves a shot! We owe it to him to see what he is made of! Give him all three aussie games! Quinton is to young...he needs to go play some provincial cricket first. Just look at Levi...young, brash and struggling at international level. Besides, I see Quinton as a opening batsmen. Peterson and/or smith should be retiring in 3 years. Quinton should be ready by then!

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (October 4, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

Not unexpected, and another reason it's a mercy we were knocked out of this T20 cup. No way AB should be taking over keeping from Boucher full time, it's madness to ask of one of your best top order batsmen who's known to have back problems. With Kallis on the way out the selectors are looking for a new all-rounder, but AB isn't the answer. He'll have his hands full taking the #4 slot over from JK and probably the captaincy from Smith.

Posted by SA_Scot on (October 4, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

@Ziggy. I could not agree more. Get the man in NOW! Bouch was very young when he started, De Kock seems to have the same calibre. Stop messing around selectors, get the lad in. Saying that, you could not get much tougher a starting series than Oz away................ but Thami will be in the same boat, he's basically a rookie for the test team despite his exerience....soo, I say go for the batting calibre which seems to lie with De Kock. Slightly risky, but c'mon SA, keep going with the more adventurous decisions!

Posted by Gordo85 on (October 4, 2012, 14:25 GMT)

That is just all we need. I guess this is what happens when you pick a person who isn't really a wicketkeeper all of the time they are not used to it. The bad news for ZiggyMarley is though is that it is most likely to be Thami Tsolekile who would be the keeper but the problem with that is in the past he didn't make enough runs at Test level and currently now Cricket South Africa are trying to protect him so he can play Test cricket again. Back when Boucher had that shocking injury he was called up to replace him. To me though Quinton de Kock could be worth a shot I mean I had seen his keeping here in Australia in the under 19s World Cup recently and he wasn't the worst Keeper I have ever seen, but the problem with him is he can be a bit too inconsistent with the bat as in too many times often he hasn't adapted his batting he can be too much of a big hitter too often. But I do agree what does he have to lose. Tsolekile is also not consistent enough with bat and too often he fails.

Posted by ZiggyMarley on (October 4, 2012, 13:42 GMT)

Bring in Quinton de Kock now!

He can keep instead of AB in tests and bat 7 in place of either Rudolph or Duminy. I'd favour Duminy to retain his place simply because he is younger, more agile and can bowl a bit of off-spin. Plus Duminy plays all 3 formats.

I don't think AB would mind keeping in ODIs, like Sangakarra.

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