Ahead of the all-important five-match ODI series against Australia at home, the spotlight remains on South African skipper AB De Villiers. The batting icon was ruled out of the side’s fixture against Ireland at the last moment due to an injury issue. In his absence, it was number three batsman Faf Du Plessis, who led the South Africans to victory in the one-off the game.
Nevertheless, with a series against the world number one ranked Australia on cards, De Villiers’ fitness remains integral for South Africa’s fortunes. De Villiers has been South Africa’s best ODI batsman by a mile and against a top quality opposition like Australia, his presence will be a massive boost for the hosts. His fate for the series, though, will be assessed only after the results of his fitness tests are out.
According to South African coach Russell Domingo, the reason behind De Villiers’ injury was his intense workload. “I’m not saying I said so, but when I said so after the West Indies tour I took a beating from a lot of people in the public and in the media saying ‘what a lot of crap, these blokes should be playing left, right and centre and they should be winning in any case’,” Domingo said.
“There’s no doubt that guys are playing too many games, too many formats, too many competitions and I’m saying that again. “At the end of the day, we as a national side sit with issues because we’re sort of keeping guys fit to go and play in other tournaments and that sometimes can be a bit painful for me. “So I’m saying it again, I definitely think our guys are playing too many formats and something needs to be done about it,” the South African coach added.
De Villiers’ counterpart Steve Smith, though, admitted that it would be great if the South African skipper was fit for the series. “From our point of view, we want to be playing against the best players and he’s one of the best players in the world,” Smith said. “It would be great to see him playing and to come up against him.”