De Villiers targets fast approach
AB de Villiers' workload management will not include taking time off from the IPL, South Africa's Test and ODI captain has confirmed. However, he may look to lessen some national commitments at the end of next month's World T20 in India, which leads directly into the six-week IPL tournament in April and May.
"I'm still going to play in the IPL," de Villiers said ahead of the first ODI against England in Bloemfontein. "It would be stupid of me to turn my back on that. It's played a big role in my career, in me growing as a player."
"I see it as a really important part of my career. So I'm not going to let that go. But there are some other areas that I'll look at to rest a little bit. I'm very committed at the moment to be captain in the two formats and to play T20s as well. We've got a World Cup coming up, and I'm just taking it one game at a time."
With de Villiers now confirmed as Test captain and having made public his desire to play in another 50-over World Cup, it appears international T20s may be the first to go, despite the increasing irrelevance of bilateral ODI series.
But for de Villiers, ODIs remain an important playground. In South Africa's last home series, against West Indies in January 2015, he broke the record for the fastest century in 50-over cricket and he's hinted there may be more where that came from.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could scored a hundred in 31 balls, or even close to 50. I surprise myself every time I do that. I keep believing I can do stuff like that but the focus is always on winning games for the team," he said. "That's probably my biggest strength - I focus so much on winning the game that before I realise it I've scored a hundred off close to 30 balls. Things like that are always possible when you aim bigger and have a bigger cause."
In this series the bigger cause is South Africa's need to prove to their fans that they are still on track despite back-to-back Test series defeats.
"We're playing at home so there is added pressure on us. We beat India in the last [ODI] series, which was a massive win," de Villiers said. "We've got momentum on our side but we haven't played England for a long time. They seem to be playing really good cricket. So we'll be wary of them. But hopefully we'll get on top of them tomorrow and then use our home advantage to win this series."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent