South Africa superstar AB de Villiers has confirmed he will return to Test cricket this summer, but his pursuit of longevity across all three formats comes at a cost, with the batsman also announcing he has stepped down as Proteas one-day international skipper.
De Villiers announced in January that he would be taking a break from the Test arena to focus on one-dayers and T20s, and had been weighing up his future in Test cricket for some time.
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The 33-year-old, who hasn’t played a Test since in January of last year as he struggled with injury over much of the past 18 months, won’t be back for South Africa’s home series against Bangladesh next month.
But he has confirmed he will be available for selection for an upcoming home series against India - and for Australia’s four-Test tour next March-April.
"Following this recent break, I really do feel refreshed and revived,” de Villiers said in a video shared on his official app.
"I want to get back on the field and I have today assured the national selectors that I will be available for selection in all three formats of the game during the coming season.
"There is plenty of hard work ahead in the nets and I must prepare properly, but I will be ready to play, if required, from the middle of October onwards."
But de Villier’s reign as ODI captain has come to an end, with the Proteas star believing it is the best move to ensure his longevity in all forms of the game. Faf du Plessis, who is in charge of South Africa's T20 and Test teams, looms as the likely candidate to replace his teammate.
"Faf du Plessis has proved to be an outstanding captain of the T20 and Test teams, and bearing this in mind, I have informed Cricket South Africa that I would like to step down as captain of the ODI team,” he said.
"It has been an honour to lead the team for the past six years, but it is now time for someone else to take the ODI side forward. Whoever is chosen as the new ODI captain will have my complete support."
De Villiers also took a swipe at those who had criticised his much talked-about absence from Test cricket. Last month, 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 Villier’s announcement dashes any hopes of the Sydney Thunder luring the Proteas star down under for the KFC Big Bash League this season.
But it does give Steve Smith’s men plenty to think about ahead of their four-Test tour early next year, which will see Australia play Tests in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth.
The right-hander has scored 8074 runs in 106 Tests, including 21 centuries, at an average of 50.46.