Is South Africa superstar AB de Villiers headed for the KFC BBL this summer?
BBL|05 champions Sydney Thunder have the batting dynamo firmly in their sights according to a News Corp media report.
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De Villiers is currently weighing up his future in Test cricket ahead of a meeting with Cricket South Africa this month where the two parties will make a final decision on the star’s participation across all formats at international level in the coming years.
The 33-year-old was last month announced as a marquee player for South Africa’s T20 Global League, with the inaugural season of the new franchise competition to conclude on December 16 - three days before the Thunder open the BBL|07 season in the Sydney Smash at Spotless Stadium.
A Thunder spokesperson told cricket.com.au that talk of the club’s interest in de Villiers was simply media speculation, but did confirm they are targeting a class batter to fill an international spot on the list.
The Big Bash club previously showed interest in luring de Villiers to Sydney around the time of their maiden title in early 2016, but that plan was quickly scuppered when the former Test skipper denied he was on the brink of retiring from the game’s longest format.
However, de Villiers hasn’t played a Test since his twin ducks against England in January of last year as he struggled with injury over much of the past 18 months.
The Thunder, meanwhile, have two international spots available on their list after star West Indies import Andre Russell was hit with a one-year ban – starting January 31 this year – due to a doping whereabouts rule violation.
Russell’s turbulent BBL campaign was cut short last summer when a nasty hamstring injury meant he had to be stretchered from the field in a home clash against the Melbourne Stars.
The powerful allrounder – who played a key role in the side’s BBL|05 title – was then replaced by Windies teammate Carlos Brathwaite for the remainder of a season in which the Thunder finished last with three wins from eight matches.
In addition to de Villiers and Brathwaite, the News Corp report also suggests England one-day international skipper Eoin Morgan is a chance to return to the team in green once again – although his availability is likely to be severely impacted in January with the national side in Australia for a five-match ODI series, followed by a T20 tri-series also featuring New Zealand.
Current Thunder Squad: Aiden Blizzard, Pat Cummins, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green, Clint McKay, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Shane Watson.