Former Proteas batsman Boeta Dippenaar has cast doubt over whether AB de Villiers will be “truly happy” when he returns to the Test side.
De Villiers on Monday evening announced he was stepping down as South Africa’s captain in the five-day format after failing to recover in time from an elbow injury for the Test series against Sri Lanka – handing the role to Faf du Plessis.
Some people find his decision appealing as it might grant him more freedom as a batsman but Dippenaar believes that may not be the case.
“I’ll admit I haven’t had much time to digest the matter yet,” he said on Tuesday.
“Of course, one hopes AB scores lots of runs now because he doesn’t have to worry about captaincy matters anymore. But we’re still in the dark a bit about what his intentions really were.
“Is he really at peace with his decision or did he have to force himself? Is he ready to merely be a senior player again?”
Dippenaar may have a point.
De Villiers has never kept his desire to be Test captain a secret.
In fact, last season he tried – without explicitly saying so – to express his disappointment at being overlooked in favour of Hashim Amla.
During the series against England, De Villiers complained about his workload and didn’t try to quash rumours over his international retirement.
A week later, Amla resigned and De Villiers took over.
He never complained after that again.
Yet Peter Kirsten, another former Protea stalwart, says the “unselfish” De Villiers needn’t be worried.
“He’s still the one-day captain. That should satisfy his hunger to captain,” he said.
“Personally I would prefer to give Faf du Plessis the one-day captaincy as well as he’s really proved himself as a calm, thoughtful leader. But AB is also competent.”
Naturally, Kirsten finds the prospect of De Villiers, who averages 50.46 in Tests, being unshackled as batsman very appealing.
“Gosh, that’s a scary thought for any opposition bowling attack isn’t it? He very much remains the Proteas’ most dangerous batter. The only question is who he’ll replace because South Africa have coped very nicely without him.”