AB de Villiers: A cricketer has the power to decide what he wants to do with his career

May 09, 2018, 13:50 IST | Noel D'Souza

SA batting icon AB de Villiers opens up on top cricketers turning freelancers, premature retirement, the Kolpak menace andBangalore's poor run

AB de Villiers during an event at BKC yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
AB de Villiers during an event at BKCˆyesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

The emergence of money spinning franchise-based cricket leagues across the globe has raised many questions whether the 'cricketer' has succumbed to such changes in the sport at the cost of representing his nation.

An increasing number of players, particularly South Africans, have even take premature retirement from their national sides and become Kolpak players for English county teams. Joining that bandwagon recently was South Africa all-rounder Morne Morkel, who opted to play for Surrey.

Former South Africa skipper AB de Villiers, who has featured in all the 11 seasons of the T20 for Bangalore, besides playing for Barbados Tridents in the 2016 Caribbean Premier League, feels a cricketer is a professional sportsman and has the power to decide what he can do. De Villiers was in the city to launch Montblanc's new collection.

Excerpts:

Tough loss against Hyderabad.
Yeah, we lost! Rashid's (Khan) a good bowler. It's difficult to pick him in the evenings. I've batted him in the day before and I've hit him easily, so I wasn't sure which way it was turning last night (Monday) and inside edged it onto the stumps.

What is not clicking with Bangalore?
If I knew, I would definitely apply it and turn things around, but I'm not exactly sure what's gone wrong. We're not playing as well as we wanted to and should have. So yes, we need to up our game and hopefully, win the last four. There are a lot of new faces, maybe that's part of the difficulty to get the right groove going this year. If we keep the same kind of faces, then next year we'll be a lot stronger.

A lot of cricketers are taking a liking for franchise cricket and in turn keep the nation's interest secondary. Your thoughts?
A player is a professional sportsman at the end of the day. He's got the power to decide where he wants to play and what he wants to do with his career. Certainly, for me what comes first is to play for my country. I've done that for 14 years. If someday, the time comes to play somewhere else, then I'll do it. It's entirely my decision and that's the way it should be.

There has been a surge in counties signing Kolpak deals with South Africans. How can this situation be curbed?
It's never great to lose players, but if our T20 tournament comes through, the Global T20 league, then that will help a lot to keep the players there.

Given that T20s XI's feature just four foreigners, with the likelihood that their slot in the next game may not be certain, what brings them to his league?
It's the best T20 tournament in the world. It's the strongest league that I've been part of. It's closest to international cricket that you're going to get. It is why players keep coming here. Obviously, financially, it's a big pulling power, but besides that, you get to make great friends and experience different cultures. It's getting a lot harder to get into the T20. You need to be an extraordinary player to get an opportunity.

What do you think is the future of ODI cricket given the number of T20 leagues cropping up?
I'm optimistic about it. I think it's still very competitive. It's in between Tests and T20s. The bowlers have enough time to make the batters work hard. The batters need to show a bit of endurance, combined with skill and then obviously explode at the end. It's a great format. The World Cup drives this format big time. Everyone looks forward to those World Cups. I can't see that format going down.

So the game is not compressing?
I don't think so. There's still a lot of room for Test cricket. There's room for all the formats as long as the game is played in the right way and it's competitive in all the formats, then I'm happy. I can't see Test cricket going anywhere. It's too exciting and it's amazing for the players to be part of. It's the real test. Twenty20 cricket is amazing. I haven't played in T10s so I can't comment on that, but the ODIs, the World Cups, it's all exciting.

Also Read: T20 2018: When I Feel Threatened, I Counter-Attack, Says AB De Villiers

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