AB de Villiers, had stated his doubt on his future beyond the series with England. Speaking in his first press conference as South Africa’s Test captain, de Villiers said the crowded schedule and the financial pull of Twenty20 could lead him to walk away from the world stage.
The 31-year-old took who took over from Hashim Amla after the drawn second Test in Cape Town,said this on the eve of the third test with his team 1-0 down with two to play.
The batsman who said that the report of his impending retirement before the start of the series contained “a little bit of truth”- revealed he had not always enjoyed playing for his country in the past three years.
He therefore warned cricket’s governing body that more and more top players will reconsider their futures in the international game unless something is done to reduce what have become crippling workloads.
“There has been a few rumours floating around and in most rumours there is always a little bit of truth, I’ve found myself on the pitch in the past few years, every now and then, not enjoying myself as much as I should be and that raises concerns. I’ve been searching for answers and speaking to a few people and that has leaked a little bit.
“I’m still very committed. To the job [of captaincy] I’m not sure, obviously the two Test matches for now is all I’m focusing on, and there is a nice six-month break before we play Test cricket again [at home to New Zealand in August].
“Lots of things can happen before then and I don’t want to commit myself too much to everything before then but for now I’m as committed as I can be and I’m very hungry to make a success of the next two Test matches.”
The South Africa’s one-day captain earns $1.4m playing in the Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore – estimated to be 10 times his annual contract with Cricket South Africa – and is in talks to play in the Caribbean Premier League in July, a deal that would wipe out his remaining downtime in 2016.
De Villiers who believes his situation is echoed by other leading players around the world said it was a growing concern for the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“I think it is an ongoing concern for the ICC. They have been talking about it over the last few years to try to keep everybody fresh. Test cricket is the main format and we all want to be part of that. There are huge traditions in the format but I truly believe there are one or two areas where we can improve.
“There are big tournaments going on around the world at the moment and some of them you cannot ignore because financially they do make a huge difference in our lives.
“Obviously you have to look after that side of it as well. This kind of cricket comes first. International cricket is the main one you want to play and one or two things will have to change in the future in order for that to happen.” he said.
When he was asked whether the ICC had spoken to him about the issue and how he would reach a decision on his international future, de Villiers replied:
“There have been plenty of surveys in the last few years. I have seen some changes in the past. There are still one or two that need to get attention from the ICC. One of those is the schedules for the more senior guys to make sure they keep their focus in the right places. I don’t know what the answers are. I can’t make a statement. All I know is there are quite a few guys feeling we are playing a bit too much cricket and just need to get the focus right.”
“I get good advice from people who have got my best interests at heart. We will just try and make the right call. My focus is on international cricket. I want to play for as long as possible. I have dreams of winning World Cups and No1 status in Test cricket for as long as possible. I want to get my experience across to the youngsters. There are so many dreams I would want to follow again I would just like to sit down, take some time away from the game, discuss these things and make the right call.”
Meanwhile, it is obvious that when compared with South Africa, England’s Test players are better rewarded by their central contracts and match fees. De Villiers’ opposite number, Alastair Cook, insisted that the international game cannot afford to stand still.
“I don’t think we’re reaching the end game. Everyone loves Test cricket, everyone knows we have got to protect Test cricket because it is really the ultimate test of a cricketer but you can’t stand still. You have to always look at how we can improve the game.
“With Twenty20 coming in, who’d have said 10 years ago the effect that would have? I was watching the Big Bash today with 40,000 people in the crowd and it looked a great spectacle.
“We can’t stand still as a game. The people who run it have got to know the responsibility is on their shoulders to look after it and try to push it forward the best way they can.” he said.