ICC Champions Trophy 2017
De Villiers fueled by trophy hunger: Hussey
Proteas superstar spurred on by ODI ambition but his days in the whites could be over
11 May 2017, 02:10 PM AEST
Former Australia batsman Mike Hussey says he would be "surprised" if AB de Villiers played Test cricket again, with the glory of a 50-over World Cup triumph instead the fuel driving the South Africa ace.
De Villiers will lead the Proteas in next month’s Champions Trophy in England hell bent on shaking his nation’s reputation as ‘chokers’ by winning South Africa’s first piece of limited-overs silverware since the ICC KnockOut Trophy in 1998.
It’s a title drought that stretches back two decades and a number of heartbreaking moments – including three World Cup semi-final defeats and a crushing rain-affected tie on home soil in 2003 – which is motivating de Villiers who is hungry for global success before his glittering international career comes to an end.
And Hussey says his rivals should watch out.
"I caught up with him while I was in India (commentating the IPL) and he’s desperate to win a tournament with South Africa in one-day cricket," Hussey told cricket.com.au.
"He thinks they can win a World Cup, so this is like a mini-World Cup and it’s what’s driving him in his cricket career at the moment.
"When you’ve got such a quality player that’s highly motivated, personally and for the team, then that’s a pretty dangerous combination for the opposition."
While de Villiers’ legacy as one of cricket’s greatest batsmen, in particular of the 21st century, is already assured, the physical toll of plundering bowling attacks across the planet for the past dozen years could mean his future feats may be exclusively against the white ball.
As a result, the 33-year-old’s 106-Test career is currently in limbo.
Last August he admitted he was battling "five or six niggles" before an elbow injury ruled him out of Test series against New Zealand at home and the Test series win in Australia.
While he returned to limited-overs international cricket in February, de Villiers ruled himself out of the March Test series in New Zealand – an absence he has since extended to the four-Test tour of England in July-August and the succeeding two Tests against Bangladesh.
The prolific right-hander has relinquished the Test captaincy full-time to close friend Faf du Plessis, and despite de Villiers previously indicating the 2017-18 home Test series against India and Australia’s visit early next year remain on the horizon, Hussey is uncertain whether the champion batsman will physically be able to make it.
"If I’m being honest I’d be surprised if he keeps playing (Tests) due to the toll Test cricket takes on your body," Hussey said.
"Body-wise he has back problems plus he’s had this elbow injury that kept him out for a long time.
"I think he’ll really try and focus on the shorter formats of the game."
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If de Villiers decides to play just the limited-overs formats, South Africa will continue to have the services of perhaps the premier white-ball batsman in the world.
De Villiers is the No.1 ranked ODI batsman in the world, owns the fastest one-day century (31 balls against the Windies in 2015) and has reached 9,000 runs in fewer innings than any other batsman in the game.
Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who has faced de Villiers at both franchise and international level, says the South African has a "fear factor" about him, a view that is undoubtedly shared by plenty of bowlers around the world.
South Africa fine tune their Champions Trophy preparation with a three-match ODI series against tournament hosts England, starting at Lord’s on 24 May.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval
27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston
28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval
29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston
30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston
30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval
1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)