AB de Villiers has confirmed he is considering "throwing his name in the hat" for an international comeback at the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year following constructive talks with the new leadership in South Africa.
Late last year captain Faf du Plessis revealed conversations had already begun about whether de Villiers could return following his retirement in May 2018. Now de Villiers has said "hopefully I'll be involved as well pretty soon" having been encouraged by the appointment of former team-mates Mark Boucher and Graeme Smith as coach and director of cricket following major upheaval in Cricket South Africa.
"There's a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality, I would love to," de Villers told reporters after making his BBL debut for the Brisbane Heat on Tuesday. "I've been talking to Bouch, Graeme Smith and Faf back home. We are all keen to make it happen, it's a long way away still and plenty can happen - there's the IPL coming, I've still got to be in form at that time. I'm thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping everything will work out.
"It's not a guarantee, I don't want to disappoint myself or other people, so for now I'm just going to try and keep a low profile, play the best possible cricket I can and we'll see what happens towards the end of the year."
South Africa's assistant coach Enoch Nkwe was open to the possibility of de Villiers joining the dressing room. "I am not 100% sure but AB's commitment to South African cricket especially in MSL, we keep seeing him fully committed to these type of leagues which still shows that if we are to need some sort of experience like that, we could actually call him up and I am sure that he would be someone who would love to do it for South Africa."
Nkwe, however, added that de Villiers wouldn't just walk back into the team and that he may need to play some matches leading up to the T20 World Cup. "I'm sure that if he shows interest he will be involved in some of the series that we will be playing. We will wait and see if he interested or not. It's always good to have some sort of experience and I am sure from personal life experience in the last year or two that he has gained outside of playing international cricket, that will be immense for the environment. And also for South African cricket but let's wait and see once those decisions have been made."
De Villiers had attempted to engineer a return for last year's World Cup but the selectors decided he had made his pitch too late and it risked disruption to the side. South Africa ended up having a torrid World Cup where they never threatened to make the semi-finals.
The fact that three former team-mates are now at the helm of the men's team appears to have paved the way for far more positive discussions.
"It doesn't mean everything is going to be sunshine and roses but it's definitely a lot easier and feels comfortable, the language that's being used and the feel everyone has at the moment in South Africa about the cricket," de Villiers said. "They are my friends, I played 10-plus years with them, so we've been through a lot and great to have them involved again. Hopefully I'll be involved as well pretty soon."
Last month, du Plessis said: "People want AB to play and I am no different. Those conversations have been happening for two or three months already: what does it look like, how does it look over the next year, and that's where it starts."