If AB de Villiers does fight his way back into the Proteas Test side – especially with tough series against India and Australia coming up – supporters can thank Ottis Gibson.
It was indeed the new national coach that finally convinced the 33-year-old world class batsman to be available again in all three formats.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) October 18, 2017
“I needed a couple of months away with the family and then Ottis made contact. I had met him before he was announced coach and I knew he was a great guy,” De Villiers said after the stunning 176 he made in the second ODI against Bangladesh on Wednesday in Paarl.
“He wanted to know where I was headed with my career and I told him I wanted to get back in the side. He is quite a confident man and knows what he wants. You get the feeling we know where we are going as a team.”
However, deciding to play in every form of the game again for South Africa did come at some “personal cost”.
De Villiers is not the ODI captain anymore.
There’s a feeling in some quarters that that compromise is a bittersweet one for him but he doesn’t seem too worried.
“I had a long run as a captain. I had some fantastic ups, and also quite a few lows in between. I just felt like it was enough. I wanted to enjoy the last few years of my career. I know what Faf is capable of as captain, and I think he’s going to become one of the best leaders we have had in this country,” said De Villiers.
Instead, his biggest challenge now is getting back into whites, where he’s either going to have to dislodge Temba Bavuma from his No 4 position or muscle out an all-rounder in the Test side.
De Villiers isn’t taking that for granted.
“If selected, I will be there but I can’t accept that I am going to be in the squad. I have been out of the squad for a while and guys that have come in have done well. You don’t just walk into the Test team,” he said.
As for his stunner in the Cape winelands, he was actually “nervous”.
“It took me an over or so to remember I had a good net in Kimberley and I am in good form. I had to remind myself that I am hitting the ball well. It was great to be out there with Hashim Amla, he has a very calming influence.”
That was (eventually) hard to believe.