The calls for South Africa cricket authorities and experienced members to bring back AB de Villiers from his “time away” from Test cricket grew even louder on Monday following the Proteas’ 177 run defeat at the hands of England in Manchester. The result meant England inflicted a hammering 3-1 series defeat on the second-ranked South Africa and moved up to third in the process.
The defeats have come largely on the back of poor batting displays with South Africa crossing 300 runs just thrice in the four Tests and inability to find a suitable option at number four with three options considered throughout the series.
“I would love AB to play – we all know how good he is and we missed him, but we’ve spent too much time talking about when he is going to come back,” said South Africa captain Faf du Plessis after the 177 run defeat. “The hope of him coming back is something we need to move past, we need to find someone else who fulfill that role. If AB comes back it’s a huge bonus but I don’t expect him to come back into the Test team.”
South Africa have experimented with JP Duminy, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma in the number four slot. Duminy was dropped after the first Test at Lord’s, De Kock took over in the second and third Tests with Bavuma getting that chance in the final match of the series. “We didn’t come here planning for JP to be dropped, we were hoping that he could bowl and play those x-factor innings,” said Du Plessis.
AB de Villiers had initially missed the series against New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka due to an operation but since then has said he is taking a sabbatical from Test cricket while maintaining focus on the shorter version of the game and targeting the 2019 World Cup. Many in the game, especially in South African cricket, have expressed hope that he returns to bolster the lineup. Former captain Shaun Pollock, too, called on Cricket South Africa (CSA) to try and convince de Villiers to come out and play in the series against India and Australia at least.