CAPE TOWN: Stylish icket-keeper batsmana AB de Villiers has agreed to become South Africa’s Test captain on a permanent basis. De Villiers, who will also lead his country in a five-match one-day international series against England, starting next week, was in charge for the last two Tests of the series lost 2-1.
After taking over the Test captaincy from Hashim Amla as a short-term measure, however, he appeared equivocal about the role – and his subsequent form, including a pair in the final match at Centurion last week, was below his established standards as one of the world’s finest batsman.
It was nonetheless announced, following a Cricket South Africa board meeting on Friday, that the 31-year-old will lead the Test team for the foreseeable future.
“This is an exciting time for South African cricket, and I am honoured to have been asked to captain the Test team into a new era,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoyed captaining in the last two Tests against England – and although I still have a lot to learn in this role, it’s a new challenge that I’m excited to take on.”
He is optimistic about the potential of a team which appears in transition but contains several promising players.
“I have been privileged to play in several outstanding Proteas teams over the past 11 seasons, and I believe we are witnessing the emergence of another great team,” De Villiers added.
“There is plenty of hard work ahead of us; we are rebuilding and have a long way to go to being a finished product as a squad.
“We may have to fight through some tough times. But the recent performances of Kagiso Rabada, Temba Bavuma, Dane Piedt, Dean Elgar and others have created an opportunity to build a team that delights and unites our country as never before.
“I could not be more excited about the future. I am fully committed to the Proteas – but more than anything, I am grateful for the support from my team-mates, Cricket South Africa and the people of our rainbow nation.”
The CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat is confident the right captain has been chosen.
“AB is a class cricketer and a special person,” he said, “and the board is delighted that he has taken on the responsibility to lead the Proteas Test team during this crucial phase of guiding new players and rebuilding the team to once again be the best in the world.
“AB’s commitment to the Proteas and international cricket is a lesson for many other cricketers, and the board was unanimous in appointing him to take charge of the team.
At the conclusion of the board meeting, a CSA press release also addressed the anti-corruption investigation which has led to the former Test player Gulam Bodi’s 20-year ban for contriving or attempting to fix Twenty20 matches.
The CSA chairman, Chris Nenzani, said: “The board is satisfied with the progress that has been made so far and with the lengthy ban that was imposed on Mr Bodi. We will strongly uphold our stance of zero tolerance on any corruption matter.
“The internal investigation under the CSA anti-corruption code continues, and we are confident our experienced investigative team will leave no stone unturned.”
On Sunday, South Africa are expected to announce replacements for the injured pace bowlers Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott in their ODI squad.