Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers said that India’s chances in the upcoming Test series in Australia may hinge on the fitness of their pacers and on how they do in the first Test. “I think if they can keep the fast bowlers fit they have a very good chance. I saw some of the guys were not hundred percent fit (during the England tour),” said De Villiers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar missed out on the entire five-match Test series against England while Jasprit Bumrah could join the team only in the third Test. De Villiers reckons that if India have their frontline pacers ready, “if not the best, they are one of the best bowling attacks in the world at the moment.”
Virat Kohli’s India, ranked the no.1 Test team in the world, suffered 2-1 and 4-1 series defeats in South Africa and England respectively in 2018. De Villiers was part of the Proteas squad and admitted that the Indians probably played the better cricket in the three-Test rubber.
“They came to South Africa and probably played the better cricket in the series. They lost to England but the first Test was on a knife’s edge which would have changed the whole complexion of the series. They have got to take the opportunity, especially going to Australia. If you slip first Test match there, it becomes a snowball. Actually anywhere in the world, the minute you are playing away from home, the way you start is very important. They slipped in South Africa and England and it snowballed,” said De Villiers
Speaking on the sidelines of a promotional event in Delhi, De Villiers said that he remains on the fence about doing away with the toss in Test cricket. On the one hand, he says, letting the away side make the choice of what to do first might force the hosts to make a more balanced wicket. “And obviously the visiting team will decide on what it wants to do based on the conditions.”
However, De Villiers echoed the most common criticism of the proposal – the toss has been an integral part of Test cricket and is one of the many challenges that touring teams have to overcome.
De Villiers is someone who knows a thing or two about winning Test matches away from home. He has been involved in South Africa’s series wins in every Test-playing country, save for the new additions of Ireland and Afghanistan. “It is the greatest feeling (to win a Test series away from home). We can play around with the toss, but it is part of it. I would not want to change that,” he said.
The 34-year-old stunned the cricketing world in May 2018 when he announced retirement from all forms of international cricket. The announcement came on the heels of a successful Test series against Australia in which he scored 427 runs at an average of 71.16. De Villiers said that he has no intention of coming out of his international retirement but will remain active in T20 leagues.
“I am pretty happy with my decision but I am not finished yet. You will see me playing around the world in the next few years,” he said before explaining that he had lost the drive to play 12 months a year. “Once that drive is gone a little bit (it is tough to continue). I still love the game but playing 12 months in a year got a little too much for me,” said De Villiers. “I have two little boys at home. I had to make a really tough decision. But as they say ‘never say never’. You never know what is going to happen in the next six to 12 months. For now I am just looking forward to play some tournaments in months to come. It has been a very intense 15 years.”