JOHANNESBURG – Following a nearly two-year absence from Test cricket, AB de Villiers has declared that he is “200 percent” ready to engage once more with the longest format.
The 33-year-old took a nine-month hiatus from Test cricket to refresh mind and body, but was looking forward to playing in whites for the Proteas again, with an eye on playing the day/night four-day Test against Zimbabwe starting on Boxing Day.
De Villiers will even avail himself for an SA Invitational team that will play a three-day tour match against the Zimbabweans in Paarl that starts on December 20.
“I don’t necessarily think I need it, but it will be nice to go out there and spend some time on my legs. Form-wise I feel ready, but it’s important to stand in the field for a while and hopefully get a long knock,” De Villiers said at SuperSport Park yesterday.
De Villiers last played a Test against England in Centurion in January last year, where he made a ‘pair’ as South Africa secured a consolation win at the end of a series they lost 2-1.
He somewhat controversially chose to take time off from the five-day game, but announced last month he was once more availing himself for the Proteas in Tests.
The national team’s newly appointed head coach Ottis Gibson has said it would be stupid to leave De Villiers out of the Test team for the one-off match against Zimbabwe and the two high-profile series that will follow in the new year against India and Australia.
“I’ve had time at home to get fresh, time to work on my body, and time to work on skills I’ve not worked on in many years. I’ve sort of rediscovered that love of the game,” the former skipper said.
“I’ve not had an off-season where I’ve gone to nets to work on my skills and technique for ages. Last year, in the peak of the season, I was less ready for Test cricket than I am now.
“I’ve had a few months to work on things that I’ve wanted to work on for a really long time.”
De Villiers spent a lot of time working in the nets at the University of Pretoria, specifically on “red-ball” skills, in preparation for a return to the Test arena.
He has played one first-class match for his franchise the Titans since announcing his return to the format, and doesn’t believe he’ll be hindered by playing so much T20 cricket, as is currently the case with the RamSlam on the go.
“No matter what the format, I always cover the basics first, so today (at training) I played normal cricket, leave a couple of balls... there’s always place in the game for good technical skills, to make sure you’ve got the basics in place.
“Sometimes you’re 15/3 in T20 cricket, so you need to make sure you rotate strike and don’t lose another wicket.”
South Africa play the first of three Tests against India at Newlands from January 5.