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Coronavirus casts shadow over AB’s comeback

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De Villiers had said that he was taking things slowly and will assess the situation only after playing the IPL and check what is possible and what isn’t.

JOHANNESBURG – Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers has not made any concrete decision over his return for the Proteas in the T20 World Cup, but he, however, has admitted that chances of him being available for national selection would decrease if the tournament is postponed due to coronavirus pandemic.

“I am uncertain about giving a definite answer because I have been very hurt and burned in the past,” De Villiers said in an interview with the Afrikaans weekly Rapport. 

“Then people will again think I have turned my back on our country. I can’t just walk into the team. Like every other player, I have to work for my place and deserve it. It was very hurtful for me last year when people thought I assumed there was a place for me. I feel available and I will give it a go with everything I have, but I don’t want special treatment.”

De Villiers has been linked to South Africa’s T20 plans ever since Mark Boucher was appointed as head coach in December last year. In January, during the Big Bash League, he had said that he would “love to” play for South Africa again and would “hopefully be involved pretty soon”. 

But he was not included in the T20 squads for series against England Australia and it was believed that he might be considered for selection after the Indian Premier League which currently stands suspended due to coronavirus outbreak. 

Speaking to IANS in March, De Villiers had said that he was taking things slowly and will assess the situation only after playing the IPL and check what is possible and what isn’t.

“If the tournament (T20 World Cup) is postponed to next year, a whole lot of things will change. At the moment I feel available but at the same time, I don’t know how my body will feel then and if I will be fit,” de Villiers told Rapport. “If I am 100 percent as good as I want to be, then I will be available. But if I am not, I won’t open myself up to that because I am not the type of person who does things at 80 percent.”

The former Proteas skipper said he never expects any special treatment. “Then I have to do trials and show ‘Bouchie’ (Boucher) I’m still good enough. They should choose me because I’m really better than the guy next to me. I’ve never been the type of person who felt I should get just what I wanted.”

South Africa are scheduled to play white-ball matches in Sri Lanka in June and five T20Is in the West Indies in July-August. All those fixtures, including the IPL and the T20 World Cup are in doubt, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has brought the entire sporting calendar to a grinding halt. 

De Villiers retired from international cricket in March 2018. He has since been active in the franchise-based T20 tournaments around the world. He has so far played 78 T20Is in which he has scored 1672 runs, averaging 26.12 with a strike rate of 135.16.

IANS