Smith on Proteas’ relationship status with a return for AB: It’s complicated

07 May 2021 - 12:11
AB de Villiers of SA at Sunfoil Test match against Australia at St Georges Park on March 11 2018 in Port Elizabeth.
AB de Villiers of SA at Sunfoil Test match against Australia at St Georges Park on March 11 2018 in Port Elizabeth.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

The AB de Villiers discussion rages on, and director of cricket at Cricket SA (CSA) Graeme Smith has admitted his return to the Proteas set-up is not going to be straightforward as he has retired.

De Villiers‚ who has been in sparkling form for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the suspended Indian Premier League (IPL)‚ has on many occasions indicated his desire to come out of retirement.

Smith said there is no guarantee De Villiers and “free agents” Imran Tahir and Chris Morris will be part of the squad for the forthcoming five match T20 series against the West Indies in the Caribbean next month.

“As far as I am concerned‚ AB is a different discussion as he has retired and whether he will come out is an ongoing discussion‚” said Smith.

He said the selectors will consider all aspects when selecting the squads in the build-up to the World Cup later in the year.

“There are ongoing discussions but in terms of free agents‚ they are always available for section and they are playing in a number of T20 leagues around the world where they are probably gaining more experience in the format than most‚” Smith said.

“You can see the success the West Indies have had in terms of bringing back free agents for world events. I think there will be considerations but there are many factors that go into that, like team dynamics and the type of players we have in our system.

“The selectors will have to do a really thorough job and consider most aspects when selecting the squad in the build-up to the World Cup. I think our focus was always going to be trying to get our best squad throughout this period.

“There are potentially about 15 to 17 T20s in the build-up to the World Cup and the team will be extensively on the road.

“I think in our run-up to the World Cup we have subcontinent preparations in Sri Lanka and potentially in India, depending what happens with Covid-19. That is a nice build-up and the team has a nice amount of time to prepare and get things ready for the World Cup in October.”

Putting focus on the issue of Morris‚ Smith said there have been discussions with the player about his future‚ and noted his performances in the IPL for the Rajasthan Royals have been good.

“I have noticed he has said there haven’t been any discussions but certainly through the lockdowns there were discussions. He was part of our high performance training and fitness programme but I think no one will have a definitive right to play.

“There is an opportunity to get selected if the selectors feel you are ready and they want to give you a go, and it’s about performance. Of late his performances have been really good‚ with the start of the IPL‚ but there is a different intensity and pressure that comes with international cricket.

“You can’t go into it being 50/50, You must know whether you are fully committed and prepared to do everything that is required at international level. If you are prepared to take on everything required then I guess that will be up to the selectors.”