Kirsten unsure on de Villiers' future
South Africa coach Gary Kirsten says he is undecided on whether AB de Villiers will return as wicketkeeper in one-day cricket.
De Villiers hinted that he is overburdened with captaincy and keeping wicket but Kirsten said that no final decision has been taken on who will take the gloves in one-day cricket moving forward.
"In terms of our situation with AB, it's more exploratory," Kirsten said in a wide-ranging press conference. "We are going through a phase of exploring and understanding his keeping. We haven't closed the door on whether he will become our one-day keeper."
De Villiers has been South Africa's wicketkeeper in all forms since Mark Boucher was forced to retire from an eye injury sustained in a tour match in England last summer. But Quinton de Kock, at just 20 years old, was brought in to keep wicket for the current series against New Zealand.
"The decision not to keep in this one-day series was a very specific decision which wasn't his own," Kirsten explained. "He is not making his own decisions. There is a process we go through in the team. Individuals don't just stand up and make their own calls. We felt that it might be a good idea for this series specifically that AB had an opportunity to focus on his captaincy. He is a young captain and there is a lot to do on the field."
De Villiers' opportunity to captain without the responsibility of keeping was cut short by his suspension for a drastically slow over rate in the first ODI in Paarl meaning he was banned from the final two matches of the series. Kirsten expressed his disappointment that such a calamitous mistake has cost de Villiers the chance to try out a new role ahead of the Champions Trophy in June.
"I had a concern right from the outset when I spoke to the selectors that doing the job of batting at No. 4, captaining and keeping was going to be really tough on him. He was happy to do it. He is always happy to do it. I just felt I would like to see him focus on his captaincy so it is really unfortunate what has unfolded where he is missing two games and is not able to gain more experience in his captaincy."
De Villiers will return to the South African side for the start of the Pakistan series on February 1. Kirsten was unsure whether de Villiers would come straight back as wicketkeeper.
"We are thinking where we want to go long-term," Kirsten said. "If you look at the Test team: it's foolproof in many ways although we have brought in a lot of new players. I don't want to make rushed decisions.
"The one nice thing about AB not keeping is that it has given us the opportunity to explore another young talent in Quinton de Kock. He has done a good job behind the stumps and has shown real potential with the bat. There's been a lot of talk about him and it's nice that he has been given an opportunity at a higher level."