AB de Villiers set for comeback into first-class cricket


AB de Villiers’s previous red-ball appearance came against England in January 2016

What’s the story?

Having set his sights on returning to Tests, South African star AB de Villiers will make a long-awaited comeback into first-class cricket. The 33-year old is expected to turn out for the Titans in their upcoming round three match against Highveld Lions in the 2017/18 Sunfoil Series at the Willowmoore Park in Benoni. The four-day game between Titans and Lions is scheduled to take place from October 6th to 9th.

During a press release regarding the announcement of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Invitation XI squad for the 50-over tour fixture against the visiting Bangladesh team, Cricket South Africa National Selection Panel Convener Linda Zondi confirmed that AB de Villiers will return to first-class cricket in order to facilitate his comeback into the Test arena.

Zondi also shed light into the thought process behind de Villiers’s selection in the SA Invitation XI squad. He stated, “We are expecting AB (de Villiers) to play in the next round of Sunfoil Series matches but he too will benefit from some game time in the shorter format.”

The Background

AB de Villiers’ previous first-class appearance came in the final Test of the home series against England in January 2016. When he was tipped to take over the Test captaincy on a full-time basis, the dynamic batsman suffered an elbow injury and was forced to undergo a surgery.

Following the surgery, de Villiers shocked one and all by announcing his desire to take a sabbatical from the longest format. He skipped the red-ball component of the England tour which saw South Africa subsiding to a 1-3 defeat in the Test series.

The heart of the matter

During August, de Villiers stepped down from the ODI captaincy and made himself available for selection across all three formats of the game. Acknowledging the situation that he might have to prove his red-ball form to the selectors in order to reclaim his Test spot, the right-hander also set his sights on making a comeback into the national team for the forthcoming home series against India.

CSA’s eagerness in providing game time for de Villiers at every possible opportunity can be discerned from the stalwart’s inclusion in the JP Duminy-led SA Invitation XI squad. Even though it might be a 50-over contest against a modest Bangladeshi bowling attack, the match serves as a platform for de Villiers to get back to his best.

What’s next?

After representing the Titans in the four-day fixture between October 6 and 9, de Villiers will turn out for the CSA Invitation XI in the 50-over tour match against Bangladesh on the 12th at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.

The batting icon will continue to be a part of the Proteas for the 3-match ODI series against Bangladesh starting on the 15th at the De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley.

Watch: AB de Villiers scripts history

Author’s Take

With the 3-match Test series between India and South Africa beginning on January 5th at the Newlands in Cape Town, it might not be too long before we welcome de Villiers back into the Test arena. The veteran’s presence will certainly bolster the Proteas for the bumper home season which also includes a 4-Test series against Australia.

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