ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020
'I'd love to': De Villiers aiming for T20 World Cup return
Proteas star to discuss prospects of international return with Cricket South Africa heavyweights ahead of this year's showpiece T20 tournament
Adam Burnett at the Gabba
14 January 2020, 07:16 PM AEST
Superstar batsman AB de Villiers has declared he "would love to" make an international comeback with South Africa at this October's ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.
De Villiers, who hung up his Proteas shirt in May 2018, made a composed 40 from 32 balls on KFC BBL debut in Brisbane Heat's seven-wicket win over Adelaide Strikers at the Gabba on Tuesday afternoon, and said afterward that the new-look power structure in Cricket South Africa (CSA) made the prospect of a return appealing, with the T20 World Cup appearing the ideal lure.
"There's a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality," the 35-year-old said.
"I would love to. I've been talking to 'Bouch' (new South Africa coach Mark Boucher), (new director of cricket) Graeme Smith and (captain) Faf (du Plessis) back home, we're all keen to make it happen.
"It's a long way away still, and plenty can happen – there's the IPL coming up, I've still got to be in form at that time.
"So I'm thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping that everything will work out.
"It's not a guarantee, once again. I don't want to disappoint myself or other people, so for now I'm just going to try and keep a low profile, try and play the best possible cricket that I can and then see what happens towards the end of the year."
De Villiers has flirted with an international return previously. Last year, ahead of the ICC ODI World Cup in the UK, the South African reportedly made himself available for the tournament, only for CSA to reject the offer.
But with a significant changing of the guard within the governing body in recent months, the possibility of a de Villiers return this time around suddenly seems more feasible.
"There are a lot of players (involved with CSA) who I used to play with," he continued. "Guys who understand the game, leaders of the team for many years.
"So it's much easier to communicate than what it used to be in the past. They understand what players go through – especially players that have played for 15 years internationally.
"It doesn't mean that everything is going to be sunshine and roses, but it's definitely a lot easier and it feels comfortable, the language that's being used and just the feel that everyone has at the moment in South Africa about the cricket."
De Villiers said he was an invested onlooker as the recent upheaval in CSA transpired, with the recruitments of Boucher and Smith, as well as new batting consultant Jacques Kallis, bringing a smile to his face.
"Absolutely, they're my friends and I played 10-plus years with them internationally," said the 114-Test veteran.
"We've been through a lot and it's great to have them involved again, and as I said, hopefully I'll be involved again as well pretty soon."
The revelation from de Villiers will be music to the ears of South Africa fans though unsurprising to the likes of du Plessis and Boucher, who revealed last month that talks to entice the legendary batsman back into the fold were already underway.
"People want AB to play and I am no different," du Plessis said last month. "Those conversations have been happening for two or three months already. What does it look like? How does it look over the next year? That's where it starts.
"T20 cricket is a different beast, it's not a lot of time away from home. 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."
Added Boucher: "When you go to a World Cup, you want your best players playing for you. If I feel he is one of your best players, why wouldn't I want to have a conversation with him?"