South Africa captain AB de Villiers has revealed he is battling a host of injuries that have crept up on him "like a thief in the night" but has confirmed he has no plans to retire from any form of international cricket.
De Villiers has been ruled out of the Proteas' two-Test series against New Zealand which begins on Friday, the first time he has missed a Test through injury since his debut in 2004.
The reason given for his absence was an ongoing elbow injury, but the 32-year-old has confirmed he is battling multiple "niggles".
"I have five to six niggles at the moment, including the shoulder that everybody knows about which started about eight months ago," de Villiers said in Durban on Monday.
"I have been hanging in there. I did fool myself a bit in thinking that I could just keep going and keep going and it has sort of caught up with me a bit.
"It's a big shame that I am losing out a few Test matches. Unfortunately it's happened that way. It caught me like a thief in the night. This was not part of the plan."
The Proteas captain says he is targeting a late September comeback – in time for South Africa's one-off one-day international against Ireland on September 25 ahead of a five-match one-day international series against Australia which runs from September 30 to October 12.
A three-Test tour of Australia will follow in November, starting at the WACA on November 3, before travelling to Hobart for the second Test starting November 12 and finally, a day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval starting November 24.
De Villiers admitted his heavy workload – that includes Tests, ODIs, T20s and appearances in domestic T20 competitions including the Indian and Caribbean premier leagues – contributed to his injury woes, but the Proteas captain says he has no plans to quit any form of the game just yet.
"I love playing for my country and I would love to play as long as I can. You've got to look after your body sometimes and that's happening with the six weeks now.
"Hopefully after this New Zealand series I will be ready to go and will tackle the Aussies in October. There's a game against Ireland in seven weeks' time.
"That's a good time to test where I am physically."
Instead, de Villiers is determined to see the Proteas recover from a tough trot that has seen them plummet from No.1 to No.7 in the ICC's Test rankings after series defeats in their two most recent Test outings, against India and England late last year.
With South Africa beginning a busy 10 months that will see them host New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka and tour Australia, New Zealand and England, de Villiers said an extended group of Proteas and potential Proteas had attended a camp last week to plot a path back to international success.
"One of the key things about the camp is that we didn't just want the team there, we wanted everyone who could possibly represent the Proteas over the next year or two or three.
"We all just chatted about what we feel has gone wrong over the last while, if there are any issues whatsoever because of the dip in form and where we think we are going as a team.
"We were really honest with each other, which is a great thing. It was for us to revisit our core values and what we want to achieve over the next while.
"I don't think you can achieve big things if you don't know where you are going."