AB de Villiers has made a "wise decision" in the "best interests of South African cricket," by sitting out of Test cricket for most of the rest of 2017, according to Ali Bacher, the former South Africa captain and veteran administrator.
Bacher met with de Villiers on Tuesday, shortly after de Villiers had ruled himself out of the New Zealand Tests in March, and told ESPNcricinfo he thought de Villiers had done the right thing.
"AB is an extraordinary individual and the amount of cricket he has played has taken its toll on his body. If he had to play all formats, his body will break down," Bacher said. "He has made a wise decision to go about things cautiously and get his body ready to take on the world again."
De Villiers has spent the last six months on the sidelines as he recovered from an elbow injury that required surgery. He is due to make a comeback in a T20 against Sri Lanka on January 25, with a view to playing in the five-match ODI series that follows, and hopes to lead South Africa to the Champions Trophy and ultimately the 2019 World Cup.
Fifty-over cricket is his focus and Bacher believes de Villiers will not rest until he has his hands on an ICC trophy. "He is extremely passionate about South African cricket and about winning that World Cup," Bacher said.
Bacher also brushed aside concerns that de Villiers' extended time out of the Test arena will see the team move on without him.
"He is one of the greats and I would think that, when he is fit and ready, he will be an automatic pick." He asked the South African public to be patient with de Villiers because "he has given 100%", and has served them "non-stop".
De Villiers had played international cricket for 12 years, including 98 Tests in succession from his debut to July 2015. He missed South Africa's series in Bangladesh on that occasion, because of paternity commitments.
"It is vigorous. The practice schedule and the playing. And he has been going like this since 2004. He has done so much and if he is not wise he will break down again. I have seen no difference in the way he feels about playing for South Africa."
Bacher was interviewing de Villiers for his television series In Conversation at de Villiers' old school, Affies, where Bacher also read out a message from Sachin Tendulkar in praise of AB.
"I got hold of Sachin Tendulkar, who was my first interviewee for the show in 2010, and I asked him to send me a few words about AB. He holds AB in such regard for the way he has changed the context of the modern game. AB is a special person and a special cricketer. South Africa must not forget that."