New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13 December 18, 2012

AB de Villiers pulls out of New Zealand T20s


AB de Villiers has pulled out of South Africa's Twenty20 internationals at home against New Zealand in December, citing the need for extra rest before the Tests in January. Justin Ontong, the Cape Cobras captain, has been called into the squad.

"It's been an exhausting few months and I feel that I need some extra rest before the Test series," De Villiers said. "It's for this reason that I have put in the request and I'm grateful to the team management for supporting this decision."

When the squad was announced on December 13, South Africa's selectors had named Faf du Plessis as captain in order to reduce the workload on de Villiers, who was included as a player. Quinton de Kock, who was part of South Africa's Under-19 squad for the 2012 World Cup, had been designated as wicketkeeper for the T20s, and ESPNCricinfo understands he will also keep in the one-dayers after the Tests, although the ODI squad has not been named yet.

De Villiers has a history of back problems that have worsened because of wicketkeeping, and this request for a break will fuel speculation that he is in trouble again. After the World Twenty20 in September, de Villiers needed three weeks of rehabilitation for his back, and South Africa's management denied the injury has recurred again.

"There is nothing imminently wrong with his back, it is just about managing workload," Mohammed Moosajee said, the team manager, told ESPNcricinfo. "The plan is to rotate players like Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla because of the schedule. Morne and Dale will probably only play one or two matches each. With AB, it's about getting his mindset right and getting him energised. It's physical and mental."

De Villiers had complained of stiffness and fatigue after playing in the domestic one-day cup playoff match on December 9. Moosajee said that could be a result of jetlag, as the team had only arrived from Australia four days before. De Villiers' role in the game could also have contributed to the fatigue. He scored a century and fielded for the entire duration of Cobras' innings because Heino Kuhn kept wicket.

Three days after that match, De Villiers said the game was "hard on my body," and that he was glad he was a wicketkeeper for South Africa "because the time in the field was tiring."

However, ESPNcricinfo understands wicketkeeping is partly responsible for de Villiers' back injuries. He became the permanent Test wicketkeeper after Mark Boucher retired and wants to continue in the role. A source close to Cricket South Africa said de Villiers had been initially reluctant to take on the job but had "changed his mind" since. With Tests the focus for de Villiers, despite his role as limited-overs captain, he will be rested when the schedule allows, although he will play the IPL.

De Villiers' replacement Ontong captained Cobras to the final of the domestic one-day cup. He scored 268 runs in 12 matches at an average of 44.66. He was part of South Africa's squad at the World T20, although he did not play, and will lead the A side in a practice match against New Zealand this afternoon.

"Justin has been in our limited-overs plans for some time now and he has underlined his worth during the recent one-day cup, when he excelled as a finisher," Andrew Hudson, the convenor of selectors, said. "As we all know he is also an outstanding fielder with his direct hits and a more than useful spin bowler. We are fortunate to have a player of his calibre to replace AB and the loss of one is certainly an opportunity for the other."

Revised Twenty20 squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Justin Ontong, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gerald on December 21, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    @ TommytuckerSaffa - Unlikely. du Plessis is not a guaranteed selection for the Test team. Smith is still captain of the Test team as well.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    Its good to see lots of youngsters getting the opportunity..but where is Albie...he was there in test squad in test for england but suddenly out of T20 itself!!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    Where is Mclaren? Parnell hasn't been good in a while.

  • Rob on December 18, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    For goodness sake, remove the gloves from AB permanently.

  • greig on December 18, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    Interesting that Faff du Plessis was the captain when him and AB were at school. I wonder if he would be able to surpass AB as being Test captain one day - which would be a good thing to reduce ABs work load....

    Really happy about Q de Kock's selection at W/C, he is a great prospect for the future and hopefully will break into the Test team in a couple years.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    AS a Huge NZ cricket Fan and test cricket fan in general. I want NZ test to compete against the best possible SA test team, WHo cares about $$T20$$ cricket

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    On the other hand lets not forget that spectators will feel a bit cheesed off as they will rightly expect to see the best possible players for their money.Consider that Durban has a single T20 as well as a 50 over odi in March-2 days of international cricket in a full season in the 2nd largest province in the country!And thats with Pakistan visiting! On top of that players pull out because they are "tired".Heck this is not the comrades marathon-it is asking A.B to field for approx 90 minutes and bat for less than that! Remember the host broadcaster wont be even showing international cricket (unless things have changed).The players owe it to the public to make a showing and not reduce the event to a sham and it is certainly disrespectful to the paying public.

  • Gerald on December 18, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    Good. No need to waste him on rubbish T20.

  • Vikesh on December 18, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    IMO Its great that the selectors are identifying key roles for players instead of expecting them to be great at everything. This takes a lot of pressure of AB De Villiers and allows him to play freely in the T20s

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    This paves the way for de Kock to establish himself, Boucher-like, in the LOI setup and then, at some point in the not-too-distant future, in the Test arena, too. AB will gladly pass the WK role to de Kock and then he can take the Kallis role.

    This is a smart move by RSA.

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