Proteas batsman AB de Villiers says his motivation for returning to red ball cricket is to help South Africa regain the number one position in the rankings this summer.
De Villiers has been out of test cricket on a self imposed exile for almost two years having last played in this format against England in January 2016.
His last outing in test cricket was a forgettable experience as he registered a pair of ducks‚ first dismissed by Stuart Broad and then by James Anderson.
In fact‚ his last three innings in test cricket before his break were ducks.
But there was a skip in his step on Saturday when he arrived for his media briefing and a training session under lights at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
“I want to contribute‚” said De Villiers‚ who is a veteran of 106 tests.
“I want to play knocks and have my say in the field‚ share my experience‚ take some catches in order for us to win games of cricket.”
South Africa can move to the top of the ICC test rankings if results go their way this summer in the home series against Zimbabwe on Boxing and India and Australia next year.
“Obviously we’d like to be No.1 in the world‚ we are not far away. We know if we win a few series in the next two or three months against very tough opposition we can achieve that. That will be nice to be that No.1 team in the world again and to maintain it for a few years.”
De Villiers was picked to play against Zimbabwe for an SA Invitation XI this week but withdrew because of stiffness in his lower back.
“It’s not really a big problem. It’s a little niggle I’ve had for eight or nine years. It’s something I have to manage with my workload. I had a few intense games in the last few months and I started feeling it again towards the end of the Ram Slam finals. There’s nothing you can do. It’s a little tweak. I was honest with the convener and a few guys and asked them for a few days off. I needed a bit of rest and I feel fit and ready to go again.”
De Villiers is not overly concerned about the fact he has not played much multi-day cricket heading into the four day test against Zimbawbe.
“I pride myself on the fact that I can adapt to certain conditions‚ certain formats. I have worked really hard on my game in the last six months. I started off end of July facing red balls at the University of Pretoria‚ getting some technical stuff sorted out and I feel more ready than ever to take it on.
“I faced a few pink balls last night on a spicy wicket‚ it was really tough‚ but then again it’s a great challenge‚ the ultimate form of the game. It’s a great feeling to come out on top with bat in hand when the ball is moving around a bit in test cricket so we looking forward to what Zim have got to offer.”
The Proteas are in the Bay for the historic four day‚ day-night pink ball test against Zimbabwe starting on Tuesday.