I haven't retired from Tests: de Villiers

Proteas star insists his career in the whites isn't over as he prepares to lead Proteas in Champions Trophy

AB de Villiers insists his Test career is not over, leaving the door open for the South Africa superstar to take on Australia in the longest form of the game early next year.

An elbow injury ruled him out of the Proteas’ Test tour of Australia late last year and while de Villiers returned to limited-overs international cricket in February, he ruled himself out of the March Test series in New Zealand, an absence he has since extended to South Africa’s four-Test tour of England in July-August as well as two Tests against Bangladesh. 

But the 33-year-old says while focusing purely on the shorter forms of the game was the right decision “for this year”, he is adamant he has not retired from Test cricket.

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"I made some important decisions for my life and career in the last year or so in order for me to have the best chance of winning trophies and being part of a successful team," de Villiers said in Hove on Thursday ahead of South Africa's tour opener against Sussex on Friday.

"Physically I realised I’m the best I can be when I’m fresh and looking forward to cricket instead of the other way round and being tired when I’m playing. 

“Spending time with the family has done me the world of good and it is about finding the balance of working hard to win with time away from the game."

However, there is no chance he will change his mind and make himself available for the Tests in England.

"I haven't retired, no. But I'm not going to change my decision. I'll look indecisive."

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Australia are set to tour South Africa for four Tests in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg in February and March, 2018, while the Proteas are also slated to host India during their home 2017-18 summer.

De Villiers is preparing to captain South Africa in a three-match one-day international series against England that will serve as a warm-up ahead of June’s Champions Trophy tournament in England.

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South Africa are currently top of the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings but will be facing an England side who have lost only one series at home, a 3-2 defeat by world champions Australia, since their embarrassing first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup. 

"I remember thinking in 2015 they had hit rock bottom," said de Villiers. 

"The way they came back from that earned a lot of respect around the world."

South Africa, like England yet to win the World Cup, suffered fresh heartbreak in 2015 after losing to co-hosts New Zealand in a thrilling semi-final.

"I haven't won one of these trophies in my career, so I'm pretty desperate to win one, and we'll do anything we can to get out on top.

"We know these tournaments are very competitive – there are eight teams that want to win it and can win it but we do think we've got a very good squad here. I've got a good feeling about this one. 

"But first things first, we want to win the series against England." 

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Having joined the Proteas squad after a stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, de Villiers is well aware of the danger posed by England star Ben Stokes, believing the allrounder has taken his game to the "next level" during the Indian Twenty20 tournament.

Stokes struck a maiden Twenty20 century while playing for the Rising Pune Supergiants in the Twenty20 IPL and also took 12 wickets during the tournament.

"Stokes is a fantastic cricketer, with both bat and ball.

"He's definitely got something special about him.

"A lot of guys lose their way in the IPL, and others find the next level in their game. Ben Stokes definitely lifted his game and I think it would have done him the world of good.”

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