AB looks fighting fit to tackle Aussies

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The jetlagged Proteas finally got their tour moving yesterday when they had their first net practice at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Reading some of the alarmist reports about AB de Villiers’s physical condition back home, you might have thought that he would be transported to the nets in a wheelchair.

As it turned out he was, in the words of bowling coach Allan Donald, like a “jack-in-the-box” in the nets. Donald added that although De Villiers’ lower-back problem was ongoing, he had made a complete recovery.

“He was all over the place during our game of touch rugby as well,” said Donald, adding that De Villiers would definitely play – and keep wicket – in Friday’s three-day match against Australia A.

Asked how he felt after a long batting session in the nets, AB replied: “A bit rusty, but I’m getting there.”

Earlier, he said he had enjoyed his period of recuperation after South Africa’s unsuccessful T20 World Cup campaign in Sri Lanka, resting, playing the occasional game of golf and spending time with his fiancée, Danielle Swart.

An absentee from the two-hour session was premier batsman Jacques Kallis who woke up with a touch of flu and stayed in bed at the team’s hotel.

This year, Hashim Amla has been one of South Africa’s hardest working, as well as most successful cricketers, playing in all forms of the game. As a result, he has had no cricket since returning from Sri Lanka.

South Africa’s first triple-centurion worked particularly hard in the nets, having a long bat against spin and pace, before having more throwdowns.

Amla confirmed that he had completely recovered from a wrist strain that he first picked up two years ago. “I had three weeks to rest it in Durban,” he said after the session, “and it’s fine now.”

South Africa’s much-vaunted pace attack – minus Morne Morkel who only arrived in Sydney on Tuesday afternoon – also had a good workout. Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and the squad’s back-up pace bowler, Rory Kleinveldt, all eased into action.

Source: IOL Sport – October 31, 2012 / PATRICK COMPTON

Video: Alison’s Tea Break with AB de Villiers

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AB will bat and keep Down under

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The Proteas leave for Down Under tomorrow with an injury cloud hanging over their wicket-keeper De Villiers. The Proteas limited-overs captain has played no part in the Titans’ Champions League T20 campaign after suffering a recurrence of a chronic back injury upon his return from the World T20 in Sri Lanka at the beginning of the month.

The Titans were hopeful that De Villiers would be available for at least the knockout stages, but it was reported yesterday that the 28-year-old failed a fitness test ahead of the semifinal against the Sydney Sixers at Centurion tomorrow.

Moosagee, though, is not concerned with the latest development, citing the fact that De Villiers has not yet completed the mandatory three-week break that was instructed by Cricket South Africa.

“We are not too alarmed that AB won’t be able to play on Saturday,” Moosagee said. “He is definitely not in doubt for the Australian tour. It’s not a new injury, but one that surfaced two years ago. It does require monitoring, although the concern is more long term than immediate. “When his workload increases, it flares up. He will be able to do both duties – bat and keep wicket in Australia.”

It has long been mooted for De Villiers to take over the gloves, even before Mark Boucher’s horrific eye injury in England mid-year that hastened his international retirement.

However, that was more along the lines of limited-overs cricket, where De Villiers replaced Boucher two years ago already in the one-day and T20 teams.

The extra burden, especially in Test cricket, showed in England where De Villiers, despite averaging 40.25 compared to his career average of 48.25, failed to register a single half-century over the course of the three-match series.

The Proteas do have the option of specialist wicket-keeper Thami Tsolekile in reserve, with the Highveld Lions gloveman following up his tour to England with another trip to Australia. Coach Gary Kirsten may be loath to explore this option just yet, especially with De Villiers performing both duties, it allows South Africa the luxury of playing JP Duminy at No 7 in the batting line-up.

Duminy had a hugely successful tour of England, where he averaged 67.50, but more importantly shepherded the lower-order through some pressure-filled situations.

He was particularly adept in his role in the thrilling final Test at Lord’s, where his 72- and 54-run partnerships with Vernon Philander in the two innings played a pivotal role in South Africa sealing the match, series and ICC Test Championship mace handed to the World’s No 1-ranked Test nation.

It seems it’s only South Africa’s leadership core that is struggling with injury niggles. Test captain Graeme Smith, who was not selected for the World T20 on the subcontinent, has not played any cricket since the England tour back in July.

Smith underwent an ankle operation in the interim, although it was expected that he would at least get some first-class action with the Cape Cobras before tomorrow’s departure.

“Graeme too should be fine. His operation went really well and he regularly sees a specialist down in Cape Town who reports back to us. We are not worried about either Graeme or AB, and we expect both them to be ready for the first tour next week,” Moosagee added.

South Africa open their tour with a three-day match against Australia A in Sydney, starting November 2, before moving on to the first Test at the Gabba on November 9.

It will be the first time the Proteas are playing a Test in Brisbane since their return to international cricket in 1991 after spending 27 years in isolation due to apartheid.

Source: IOL Sport – October 27, 2012

AB relishing challenge to stay number one

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South Africa’s AB de Villiers says the Proteas are relishing the opportunity to defend their world number one crown for the first time on Australian soil.

The Proteas shocked Australia last time they toured in 2008/09 with their first series defeat of the home side since re-admission to international cricket in 1991.

That 2-1 victory lifted South Africa to the world number one Test team ranking for the first time. But they didn’t last long at the summit, with Australia’s return 2-1 victory in the Republic stripped them of the title.

This time, de Villiers, South Africa’s limited overs captain, is adamant the Proteas will stop at nothing to keep their spot at the top of world cricket. A ranking they earned with their 2-0 away victory over England in August.

“Last time we came out in 2008, 2009 we had a very good series win,” he said.

“I especially remember the first Test match in Perth, my first hundred in Oz. It was a great achievement as a team, we moved to the number one spot in the world then.

“We are number one this time around, the pressure is on us, and we would love to keep the number one spot.”

De Villiers believed batting is the one area where South Africa could hold an advantage over Australia. South Africa’s dependable batting line-up led them to their upset win over then World No.1 England.

A line-up held together at number three by Hashim Amla who became the first South African to score a Test triple hundred in that series with 311 not out at The Oval.

But de Villiers conceded former South African coach Mickey Arthur, who is now with Australia, could provide some vital insight to the home side for the three-Test series starting on November 9 in Brisbane. Arthur was the mentor of that last side to tour Australia in 2008/09.

“Obviously this time around Australia have Mickey Arthur on their side,” he said.

“They will have a very good side. But we won’t be worried about that we will be focusing on our game and ensuring that the top six all bat very well.

“And at end of the tour we would like to say we are number one in the world still.”

Source: ABC Sport – October 19, 2012