De Villiers 'keen' to stay on as Test captain
AB de Villiers' captaincy aspirations remain alive although he is unsure how long he wants to spend in the leadership role. De Villiers will be in charge of South Africa for the Centurion Test and the ODIs that follow and has indicated he would consider the Test captaincy on a full-time basis in the short term.
"I committed for this series, then we'll have a discussion to find out where we want to go with this," de Villiers said. "I'm keen to move forward in the next few games - not just the next one. I'm keen but it's not solely my decision. I'll throw my name in that hat. Hopefully it comes my way. Long term? We'll see. It depends what you mean by long term. But definitely longer than the next game."
De Villiers has only had one match in charge in the longest format, the Wanderers Test, where South Africa's abject performance made it difficult to judge his ability. Despite the heavy defeat, de Villiers said he enjoyed the experience and is looking forward to doing it again this week.
"I truly love captaining. I've grown into enjoying it," he said. "It's a whole different feel, Test cricket. But you have a lot of time to express yourself and to try a few things out. Obviously I can improve in quite a few areas. I can start by maybe winning the game. When you win there's always a lot of praise. Obviously when you lose games people start asking questions - your captaincy ability, your line-up, your balance."
He expects some of those questions to be answered with the imminent return to fitness of two premier members of the pace pack. "Dale and Vernon are not too far away from being 100% fit," de Villiers said. "Once they come back some of the youngsters will learn quickly with the two of them right next to them."
Dale Steyn is part of South Africa's ODI squad that will play England in February, although it is unclear at what stage of the series he will become available for selection. Steyn has said he is being careful not to rush himself back ahead of the World T20. Vernon Philander is not in the ODI squad, which means he will probably not play international cricket again until August, when South Africa host New Zealand. He may feature in domestic competitions before that and there have been whispers of a county stint.
Both bowlers will be on workload management programs, similar to de Villiers, who is still struggling with finding the balance between playing too much and playing enough. "It's a problem around the world," de Villiers said. "It's important to make sure your players have the mindset that playing international cricket is still the ultimate form of cricket. I certainly believe it still is. My problem is rest and keeping myself fresh and mentally ready.
"There is a sense of people looking for the soft option - getting paid really well and playing less cricket. In my heart, international cricket is the way forward. That's where you want to play, that's where the pressure really lies, that's where you make your name. We all grow up dreaming of playing international cricket. A plan needs to be made to make sure the guys keep their mindsets."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent