‘It is a global issue in cricketing to keep players inspired for all three formats’: AB de Villiers

A file photo of AB de Villiers of South Africa. | Image Credit: Getty Images

New Delhi South Africa great Ab de Villiers feels it is getting harder to keep players “inspired” for all three formats amid a punishing schedule, creating a dire need for cricket boards and cricketers to have honest communication on the latter’s preferred choice of formats.

The 38-year-old, who shocked the cricket world with his international retirement in 2018, said his playing career could also have been handled better. Three years later, he retired from all forms of cricket.

He left the game to spend more time with family, something that has become a luxury for an all-format modern cricketer. Considering the ever-crowded international calendar and proliferation of T20 leagues around the world, playing all three formats has become impossible without taking frequent breaks in between.

England’s Test captain Ben Stokes was forced to retire from ODIs last year as he could not continue to give his best in the formats. “That’s a tough question,” De Villiers told PTI when asked about the need for a choice of formats amid relentless scheduling.

“Because I don’t want to be the person to say give up a format or two. Then again, it’s a global issue in cricket at the moment to keep players inspired to play all formats of the game for their countries.” De Villiers believes that players’ careers can be extended if their ambitions in different formats are clear. He also expects cricketing boards to communicate clearly with players where they stand in their scheme of things.

“But I think there is room in the different boards around the world to identify the players, to have community discussions and communication early in the players’ careers, to understand what they want to achieve , first of all, and secondly, where they fit in with regards to cricket in their own country to represent the country around the world.

“But to be happy to play leagues around the world. And to get experience, it’s very important. We talked about it earlier, players like SKY (Suryakumar), Dewald Brevis and myself, how we took our games to the next level, mainly because of these leagues.

“So ultimately, that’s what we want to achieve. If it’s not achievable. And if there are clear signs that a player is a bit weak in a format, or maybe not inspired enough to achieve milestones to go a long way in. one or two formats, then yes, but that communication has to happen.

“And I think during my career, communication could have been better from my side, but also from Cricket South Africa’s side to make sure we plan accordingly. So it comes down to communication,” said ‘Mr. 360’.

De Villiers was part of the SA20 commentary panel. The inaugural competition took an eight-day break to accommodate the ODI series between hosts South Africa and England, highlighting the scheduling challenges faced by the boards.

“I don’t think it (break) is ideal to be honest. It’s very difficult to get the scheduling right and keep everyone happy. We want to see the countries get along. It’s the ultimate form of viewership but in all these leagues there’s the excitement and financially healthy.

“It’s very difficult for the ICC and everyone to make sure that the scheduling benefits everyone. Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is,” de Villiers said.

‘Doubt if we will see Indian players in foreign leagues’

BCCI does not allow Indian players to feature in overseas T20 leagues and this is not going to change in the foreseeable future. De Villiers sees a lot of merit in the BCCI’s stance.

“I would love to see it happening very soon but you don’t see Indian players being released for leagues around the world. So I don’t know if that will change. And rightfully so. I mean, the BCCI has a very clear plan to the players, they want to win World Cups.

“They want to make sure the players have the exposure they need and obviously there is no league better than the IPL. When some of the leagues might knock on their door, you never know,” he added.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Content Writer for Sports section on Contact: [email protected]

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