Home Sport Cricket Never mind Test, what about AB and Stokes?

Never mind Test, what about AB and Stokes?

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The Proteas have yet to settle on a final XI with Du Plessis indicating that Cape Cobras seamer Dane Paterson could be in line for a Test debut

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis needs to focus on one issue at a time as the third Test against England gets under way today. Picture: Deryck Foster BackpagePix

Even when the Proteas are bracing themselves for a crucial third Test against England starting this morning at St George’s Park, they just can’t get away from talking about AB de Villiers.

The 35-year-old batsman may have retired in 2018 already, but his name continues to crop up at the most inopportune times.

De Villiers is currently playing in Australia in the Big Bash for the Brisbane Heat, but was quoted this week saying that there could be a sensational return to the Proteas for the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.

So, instead of Proteas captain Faf du Plessis focusing on the task ahead against the English, he was once again tasked with explaining how far the discussions with De Villiers has progressed.

“We spoke about it, and I was very keen to have him back.

“That was even before the new coaching staff was on board,” du Plessis said on the eve of the third Test, starting today.

“Then it was the process of what does the next year look like in terms of T20 cricket – how many games; where, when, what? And then trying to unfold that in a way that we can get him back.

“He’s keen to come do that I don’t know when. I can’t give you that answer yet because that decision hasn’t been taken. But there would be a series we would like to get him back to play.”

Du Plessis, of course, won’t have De Villiers by his side in Port Elizabeth this week and will instead need to focus on how to stop arguably the biggest poster-boy in world cricket at the moment Ben Stokes.

The maverick all-rounder has been sensational the past 12 months, which has been acknowledged by the ICC who awarded Stokes with the Sir Garfield Sobers award yesterday.

He was certainly instrumental in England levelling the series at Newlands over New Year and the Proteas will have to find a way to curb his attacking instincts.

“It was very well-deserved,” said Du Plessis.

“He’s had a fantastic season where he played big moments really well. That’s when you really want to judge cricketers, when it really matters, and that’s why he has been so successful over the last year. He’s single-handedly won so many games for England.”

“He plays a big role, whether his team does well or not. For us, he is guy that we need to keep quiet because he’s that sort of player that takes the game away from you when he gets in. He’s also got a big tank. He bowls many overs and tries 150 percent.”

The Proteas have yet to settle on a final XI with Du Plessis indicating that Cape Cobras seamer Dane Paterson could be in line for a Test debut.

England, meanwhile, are more settled with the selectors only considering a replacement for the injured James Anderson.

LIKELY TEAMS FOR
ST GEORGE’S PARK

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Dean Elgar Pieter Malan Zubayr Hamza Rassie van der Dussen Quinton de Kock Vernon Philander Dwaine Pretorius / Dane Paterson Keshav Maharaj Kagiso Rabada Anrich Nortjé.

England: Joe Root (capt) Zak Crawley Dom Sibley Joe Denly Ben Stokes Ollie Pope Jos Buttler Sam Curran Dom Bess Stuart Broad Jofra Archer / Mark Wood /Chris Woakes

Umpires: Rod Tucker Bruce Oxenford

TV Umpire: Joel Wilson

Match Referee: Andy Pycroft

Start: 10am