South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Johannesburg January 13, 2016

De Villiers unsure of long-term future

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Miller: De Villiers reignites future debate

AB de Villiers has refused to commit his long-term future to Test cricket despite being named South Africa's stand-in captain and has warned that leading players will leave international cricket behind unless there are significant changes within the game. De Villiers, who was reported to be considering early retirement at the start of the England series when he also spoke about managing his workload, has once again emphasised the need for time off and explained his own uncertainty in the current set-up.

"There have been a few rumours floating around, and in most rumours there is always a little bit of truth," de Villiers said. "It's not just in the last while; it's for two or three years I've been searching for the right answers, to play a little bit less cricket in one way or another, to keep myself fresh and to keep enjoying the game. Every now and then in the past few years I've found myself on the pitch not enjoying myself as much as I should be, and that raises concerns within myself. I've been searching for answers and speaking to people and obviously that's leaked a bit."

That also means de Villiers is not sure whether he will want to lead South Africa's Test team permanently, even though he earlier said that being given the captaincy was the "fulfilment of a lifelong dream." The decision on who will take over as long-term successor to Hashim Amla, who stepped down after the Newlands Test, will be made during the winter break which is also when de Villiers will decide on his own future.

"I'm still very committed, to the job I'm not sure - obviously the two Test matches for now are all I'm focusing on and then there's a nice big break of six months before we play Test cricket again. Lots of things can happen before then so I don't want to commit myself too much to everything before that. But for now, I'm as committed as I can be and very, very hungry to make a success of the next two Test matches," de Villiers said.

Asked what he will consider in that period, de Villiers was unsure but mentioned the things that he would still like to achieve as an international cricketer, which stretch across various formats.

"I honestly don't know. But I've got some good advice around me, good people who have my best interests at heart, and we'll just try to make the right kind of call on which direction I want to go," he said. "My focus is on international cricket and I want to play for as long as possible. I've got dreams of winning World Cups and maintaining this No.1 status in Test cricket for as long as possible. Obviously I want to get my experience across to some of the youngsters. There are so many dreams that I'd like to follow. I'd just like to sit down, take some time away from the game and discuss all these things and make the right call."

For the next four months, de Villiers will find it difficult to get away from the game. After the Tests against England, South Africa play five ODIs and two T20s against the same opponents and three T20s against Australia before the World T20 in March and early April, which will be closely followed by the IPL.

De Villiers is contracted to Royal Challengers Bangalore until the end of 2017 on a deal worth Rs 9.5 crore (US$1.5 million). At today's exchange rate, that is 23.45 million rand, which is at least ten times more than his national contract which is believed to be between 2 and 3 million rand. The financial implications of that gulf against the backdrop of the congested international schedule is the biggest challenge facing the games' global organisers, according to de Villiers.

"I think it's a growing concern for the ICC and they've been talking about it for the last few years to find the right structure to keep all the guys fresh. Obviously international cricket is the main cricket you want to play, especially Test cricket. It's the main format and we all want to be part of that. There are huge traditions and culture in this format. I believe there are one or two areas where we can improve, and make sure that we keep the guys focus in the right place," de Villiers said.

"Obviously there are big tournaments going on around the world. Some you can't ignore because financially they make a huge difference in our lives, and obviously you've got to look after that side of it as well. International cricket is the main one you want to play, and one or two things will have to change in order for that to happen."

De Villiers said the ICC have conducted surveys to ascertain player concerns. "I have seen some changes," he said. "But there are definitely one or two that need some more attention."

His recommendation is for established players to have some leeway so that they can avoid being overworked and continue to enjoy the game. "One of those are the schedules of some of the older guys, to make sure they keep their focus on the right places. I don't know what the answers are, I just know there are quite a few guys feeling that we're playing a little too much cricket at times. We just need to get the focus right."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • prabhukt429 on January 16, 2016, 7:44 GMT

    Abd play baseball. We love test cricket. We enjoys till it lasts

  • mphomoloi on January 16, 2016, 5:33 GMT

    @ian jones - unfortunately test cricket and the bilateral series format have run their course. People run busy lives and they really dont have enough time to sit around for 5 days waiting for a result except maybe for pensioners who really have nothing else to do with their time. And the sooner the icc realises this the better, because the future of cricket depends on it. To have the entire cricket schedule evolving around tests and bilaterals will be a failure to recognise changes in the environment and a failure to adapt. Fans want t20 and odi cricket, investers want t20 and odi cricket, players prefer t20 and odi cricket so who exactly will sustain test cricket? I know exactly why everything still evolves around test cricket and its 2 reasons. 1. The ashes 2. Cricket like everything else is run by old timers and for them any format overtaking test cricket is unthinkable because they are trapped in the good old days where test cricket was everything

  • mphomoloi on January 16, 2016, 5:31 GMT

    @ian jones - unfortunately test cricket and the bilateral series format have run their course. People run busy lives and they really dont have enough time to sit around for 5 days waiting for a result except maybe for pensioners who really have nothing else to do with their time. And the sooner the icc realises this the better, because the future of cricket depends on it. To have the entire cricket schedule evolving around tests and bilaterals will be a failure to recognise changes in the environment and a failure to adapt. Fans want t20 and odi cricket, investers want t20 and odi cricket, players prefer t20 and odi cricket so who exactly will sustain test cricket? I know exactly why everything still evolves around test cricket and its 2 reasons. 1. The ashes 2. Cricket like everything else is run by old timers and for them any format overtaking test cricket is unthinkable because they are trapped in the good old days where test cricket was everything

  • Ian Jones on January 15, 2016, 20:43 GMT

    mpomoloi - you kill Test cricket you eventually kill cricket.

  • YorkshirePudding on January 15, 2016, 13:52 GMT

    @StrangerWays, Hence the requests for clarification in terms of the monetary units as I've seen R used for Indian Rupees, SL rupees. I don't normally associate R with Rand.

  • Bilal_Choudry on January 15, 2016, 13:07 GMT

    he needs to man up and play test cricket ... nobody remembers what happened in a T20 club game

  • DrJez on January 15, 2016, 10:18 GMT

    @Gevelsis. There will be other fans who would find it painful watching Tests after a riveting ODI series. The days when ODIs were considered a "warm-up" act, or were used to give players experience before playing "proper" cricket, are long gone. However I do agree that 7 ODIs in a bilateral series is overkill.

  • Gevelsis on January 15, 2016, 0:20 GMT

    Except for a two-yearly World Cup, ODIs should be pared down to the absolute minimum. Never more than a 3-match series, and always taking place before the Test Series to serve as appetisers. Having to watch 7 ODIs after a riveting Test Series is often painful, and the results irrelevant.

  • Hush78 on January 14, 2016, 16:51 GMT

    I dont like ipl since it does not feature too many sri lankans. But you cant ignore it. What ab is saying here is that no one is for ing him to play ipl except himself. Ipl pays about 10 times more money you would get in a nstionsl contract. That means you can work 2 ipl seasons and eaarn the money player earning playing his entire life time about 20 years.that also just 20 over games totallying about 15-17 matches a year. These people are also making a living and though representing you country is very good your family comes first.so most international players might retire early in future to prolong their franchise careers which you cant blame them unless icc come up with something to match it or come close to it.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 14, 2016, 15:44 GMT

    @Herath-UK: Absolutely careless comment sir. I thought you understood cricket better than that. The IPL does NOT force any international cricketer to participate. It's always been an open-minded tournament when it comes to involving overseas players. So the examples you provided in your comment - Sanga, Mahela etc never played in the IPL because a franchise asked them to. They played because they wanted to. You get my point ? So if ABD is feeling tired, it's purely up to him to avoid turning out for RCB in this year's IPL season. Bangalore will replace him with someone else not that ABD 's absence will be welcomed by them. But long story short, the IPL doesn't force anybody. Enough with this myth going around. It's already been 8 long years since the league came around and people ought to know better by now.

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