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De Villiers set for first-class return

Proteas star to play first red-ball game in more than 18 months and will also feature in ODI series against Bangladesh

AB de Villiers will take a step towards a highly-anticipated return to the Test arena after Cricket South Africa confirmed the batting maestro will this week return to red ball cricket.

De Villiers, who hasn't played a first-class game in more then 18 months, is expected to play for his domestic side Titans on Friday in a four-day clash against the Warriors at Benoni.


With a home series against Australia looming in March, the prolific right-hander earlier this year confirmed he will return to Test cricket this summer after taking a break from the longest format.

While he didn't make himself available for the ongoing two-Test series against Bangladesh, he will be back in South African colours for the three-match ODI series against the Tigers beginning next week.

"We are expecting AB to play in the next round of Sunfoil Series (domestic first-class) matches but he too will benefit from some game time in the shorter format," South Africa selection convenor Linda Zondi said.

Veteran left-hander JP Duminy, who retired from Test cricket after a poor tour of England, will also in the one-day squad to form what appears a powerful batting line-up.

Fast bowler Dane Paterson is the only player in the squad who has not yet appeared in an ODI.

AB's first-baller adds to Proteas' poor start

De Villiers' last first-class match came in January 2016 at Centurion where he made a pair in the final Test of the Proteas' home series against England.

South Africa's next assignment in the longest format is a mooted four-day Test against Zimbabwe in December, though that match's Test status still needs to be confirmed by the International Cricket Council.

De Villiers gave up the one-day captaincy after the Champions Trophy in England earlier this year, with Test skipper Faf du Plessis taking over as leader of the one-day side.

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In revealing his playing future in August via his official app, De Villiers took a swipe at those who had criticised his much talked-about absence from Test cricket. 

A Twitter spat saw de Villiers slammed by former teammates Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince for his continued absence from South Africa's Test side, with Gibbs all but accusing de Villiers of 'disrespecting the team and the game'.


"A lot has been said and written over the past 12 months, and I feel it is time to make my position absolutely clear," de Villiers said.

"Over the past year or so, I have tried to manage many commitments. I have felt mentally and physically tired; my wife and I are bringing up two fantastic kids and playing in all three formats ever since 2004 has taken its toll.

"Together with Cricket South Africa, we have tried to develop a viable schedule which allows me to prolong my career for as long as possible.

"This strategy has prompted some people to say I am picking and choosing when to play for the Proteas, and even to suggest I am somehow putting myself before the team.

"That is simply not true. That has never been true. Playing for South Africa is, and will always be, the greatest privilege of my life."

De Villiers puts one on the roof in domestic return

South Africa ODI squad for Bangladesh series: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada.

Fixtures:

First ODI, October 15, Kimberley

Second ODI, October 18, Paarl

Third ODI, October 22, East London