Watson's message to 'genius' de Villiers
Former Australia allrounder wants to see the champion batsman remain in Test cricket ... or come to the Thunder
6 February 2017, 01:24 PM AEST
As AB de Villiers’ Test career remains in limbo, Sydney Thunder captain Shane Watson says he’d relish having the Proteas legend at his KFC Big Bash League club.
But Watson doesn’t want to see de Villiers exit the Test arena and conclude an amazing career in the five-day format any time soon.
De Villiers’s Test future is up in the air having withdrawn from South Africa’s upcoming Test tours against New Zealand (March), England (July-August) and Bangladesh (September-October) after he missed the Proteas past three Test serieswith an elbow injury.
In that time his deputy and close friend Faf du Plessis has taken over the leadership of the Test outfit and he led South Africa to a stunning 2-1 victory in Australia last November in de Villiers’ absence.
At 32, the 106-Test veteran is in the prime of his career as batsman, but Watson – who retired from international cricket 11 months ago – can see why his Indian Premier League teammate might be considering giving away Test cricket.
And Watson has wasted no time in expressing the Thunder’s interest in the global superstar.
"(De Villiers) has played over 100 Test matches, he’s done incredibly well for South Africa, he’s got a young family now, there are other challenges in his life as well," Watson told The Unplayable Podcast.
"I’m not exactly sure what he’s going to do but it would be disappointing not to see him play Test cricket.
"In the end, everyone’s got to move on at some stage and if he does there’s plenty of cricket for him to be able to play for South Africa in the shorter formats.
"There’s plenty of Twenty20 leagues and the Sydney Thunder are very keen to be get him involved if there’s an opportunity there.
"Anyone would be falling over themselves to get AB de Villiers.
"He’s such a very kind, genuine person off the field and on the field he provides so much with his incredible skills. He’ll be fine whatever happens."
Watson has seen first-hand the destructive capabilities of de Villiers, initially as a rival in international cricket and then as comrade with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.
The Australian openly admits he is a "massive" fan of both de Villiers and India captain Virat Kohli, who led Bangalore to the IPL final last season.
"(De Villiers) and Virat Kohli especially are the ones I love seeing, how they adapt to all different conditions and have done it for a long period of time," Watson said.
"But AB, gosh, he’s played over 100 Tests now and just dominated in all formats.
"He’s a genius in all formats.
"How he knows his game inside-out and tailors his game to whatever conditions and whatever bowlers are bowling.
"It’s just absolutely phenomenal to be able to watch."
The Thunder are looking for a new international recruit after West Indies allrounder Andre Russell was banned for 12 months for a doping whereabouts rule violation.
The suspension rules Russell out of BBL|07, leaving a hole in the Thunder roster that could be filled by de Villiers.