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Is AB about to make his return?

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“T20 cricket is a different beast, it’s not a lot of time away from home. If you are a full campaigner, you have to really get stuck in and spend a lot of time on the road”

AB de Villiers may play for South Africa again. That’s according to Proteas captain Faf du Plessis.

After new coach Mark Boucher intimated upon his appointment on Saturday that he could try to lure the maverick batsman back into the national fold, Du Plessis confirmed that talks are already under way.

“People want AB to play and I am no different,” Du Plessis said after leading the Paarl Rocks to the Mzansi Super League title. “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.”

It would be a dramatic U-turn for De Villiers, particularly after the hoopla that surrounded the 35-year-old during the 50-overs World Cup earlier this year. Having retired from the Proteas in May 2018, De Villiers targeted a comeback at the 2019 World Cup – only for the selection panel, that included Du Plessis and former coach Ottis Gibson, to regard it as too late in the piece.

But it now seems that De Villiers could be convinced to play in the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. De Villiers has been playing T20 franchise cricket all around the world since his international retirement.

“T20 cricket is a different beast, it’s not a lot of time away from home. If you are a full campaigner, you have to really get stuck in and spend a lot of time on the road,” Du Plessis said.

“Test cricket now is the most important thing but also the T20 World Cup is not too far away and there isn’t a lot – I reckon 20 T20s over the season – which won’t be that hard on one to do that. Those conversations have already taken place and will continue to before the next T20 series starts.”

There’s no doubt the new management structure around the Proteas would be enticing to De Villiers should he consider a comeback. De Villiers was part of the Tshwane Spartans team that lost to the Rocks on Monday evening, where he is coached by Boucher.

Equally, De Villiers shared a long and fond relationship with the new acting Director of Cricket Graeme Smith and interim chief executive Jacques Faul.

Du Plessis believes all these changes could be impactful.

“A lot can change in a week. We’ve seen that first-hand. It was the dark ages last week and there’s a little bit of light this week and that’s very good,” he said.

“It’s very important, it will help the dressing room and even the supporters supporting the team. Everyone wants the team to do well, everyone wants to make sure we get the right people in the right positions.

“It’s good that there is a bit of positivity around in and there’s excitement in the air, myself included. I am very excited with the start of this new journey.”