South Africa | Graeme Smith says AB's return an 'ongoing discussion', door open for free agents

Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith

Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images

Cricket South Africa's director of cricket Graeme Smith said AB de Villiers' retirement from the international game could complicate his return to the Proteas for the T20 World Cup.

Unlike Faf du Plessis, who only retired from Test cricket and remains available for white-ball cricket, De Villiers called time on his international career in 2018.

During the 2019 Cricket World Cup, there were reports of De Villiers trying to rescind his decision, but in the build-up to this tournament, Proteas coach Mark Boucher has been unequivocal in his call for De Villiers's return.

De Villiers, who was plying his trade for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the now-suspended Indian Premier League said he was also open to conversations with Boucher.

Smith also said free agents like Chris Morris and Imran Tahir aren't out of the picture. Smith used the West Indies example of utilising their free agents for T20 World Cup duty.

"AB is a different discussion as he is retired and whether he comes out of retirement is an ongoing discussion," Smith said.

"In terms of free agents, they're always available. They play in T20 leagues around the world and gaining more experience in the format than most.

"We've seen the success the West Indies have had with that policy, so it would be considered by selectors. However, many factors go into that like team dynamics and the players in the system."  

While the West Indies tour that's scheduled for June is in an advanced planning stage, Smith also announced further white ball tours to Sri Lanka and India ahead of the T20 World Cup that's still slated to take place in India.

The world's richest cricket nation may be in the group of a brutal Covid-19 onslaught that led to the freezing of the IPL and the extrication of players out of India, but the International Cricket Council hasn't made a call on moving the tournament.

Smith said the volume of cricket that's been lined up for the men's national team will get them into good shape for the World Cup.

"Our focus has always been on getting our best squad together for the next World Cup. There are potentially 15 to 17 T20s in the build-up and the team will be on the road extensively," Smith said.

"It is a nice build-up, and the team has an extensive amount of time to prepare and get things ready for October."

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