AB de Villiers, South Africa Test vice-captain, has been declared fit to play in the upcoming series against Australia. De Villiers has recovered from a hand injury sustained while training with Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Champions League T20 five weeks ago.
"I went to see the specialist and he was very happy with the recovery process," de Villiers said in Johannesburg. "He said I'm 100% ready to go, so I will be joining up with the Titans tomorrow [Friday] morning for a full nets session."
De Villiers missed out on the Twenty20 and ODI series against Australia, in which he was due to captain the side for the first time. With lack of match practice being a pertinent issue for South Africa, after the rusty showing during the limited-overs leg of the tour, de Villiers has taken measures to ensure he's match-ready by playing for the Titans against the Knights in a One-Day Cup match on Sunday. "If I get through that game, I will be ready for the first Test match," he said.
De Villiers had been itching to get back on the field after his first long lay-off since becoming a regular in the national line-up. "Sitting out, especially during the ODIs, was quite frustrating, but I learnt a lot from the sidelines," he said. "It was the first time in a long time that I was sitting on the side watching the boys play."
What made his absence even more disappointing was that it robbed him of his first chance to captain the team, after being appointed in June. Hashim Amla led the side and de Villiers said he thought Amla "captained very well".
With Graeme Smith in charge for the Tests, de Villiers' next opportunity to lead will come only early next year, when Sri Lanka visit South Africa. De Villiers said he is "excited" about the changes to the Test line-up. "We have two world class spinners in the squad for the first time in a very long time," de Villiers said, referring to Pakistani-born legspinner Imran Tahir receiving his first call up and Paul Harris being retained in the squad. "There's a whole different vibe in the Test team and with Jacques [Rudolph] coming back, there's a different look to the team."
Rudolph makes a return to the squad after five years in exile, during which he played for Yorkshire. He walked away from South African cricket a broken man, having lost form in the latter stages of his 35-match Test career. He returned at the start of the 2010-11 season stronger and more confident, and announced his arrival home by topping the SuperSport Series run charts. This season, he has already scored more than 500 runs in four matches. His recall was widely expected, even by the man himself.
"It was not really a surprise," Rudolph said. "Since October 2010, when I made it pretty clear that I badly wanted to play for the Proteas again, I believe I'd stacked up quite a lot of runs. It's helped that especially in the first three games of this season I've done really well." Rudolph said he is ready to cement his place in the national side. "I'm 30-years-old now, I'm really enjoying my game and I can see myself possibly playing for another couple of years."