London (AFP) – South Africa captain AB de Villiers wants the Twenty20 series against England to help soothe the Proteas’ wounds after their early exit from the Champions Trophy.
De Villiers’ men did not make it out of the group stage of the eight-team one-day international tournament, their fate sealed with a thumping defeat by India at The Oval.
England too were undone in their quest for Champions Trophy glory with a semi-final defeat by eventual champions Pakistan.
Now England and South Africa meet in a three-match Twenty20 series, starting at Southampton on Wednesday.
De Villiers’s captaincy was called into question during the Champions Trophy but now he is ready to lead the side at the 2019 World Cup in England.
“I’m very excited to play in the three T20s, it was a tough few days after being knocked out of the Champions Trophy,” said de Villiers at Southampton on Tuesday.
“To go through that phase of reflecting and hearing some of the criticism. It is never easy but I have always been the kind of guy to see the positives and see opportunity to improve and these three matches give me that opportunity as a player and a captain.
“I don’t feel I have to prove anything; I just want to play, I feel like a youngster starting my career. I just want to score some runs again and captain this side to a couple of wins.
“We learnt a lot of things when it comes to playing cricket here (in England). Pakistan surprised all of us how they controlled the middle overs. We have taken some cricket things out of it but also from the mental point of view.
“It shows you anyone can come out on top at the end of the day. We have made quite a few mental notes and all sorts going forward to come back in 2019, I hope I will be part of that, it is part of the plan.”
De Villiers, a star in all three formats, has decided to miss South Africa’s Test series in England that follows the Twenty20 matches.
The 33-year-old de Villiers, who will play for Pretoria in the newly-launched South African T20 Global League, has appeared in numerous Twenty20 leagues around the world, including the Indian Premier League and the Caribbean Premier League.
But he still sees a future for Twenty20 internationals amid an increasingly congested global calendar.
“We don’t play a lot of them. It is important for the ICC (International Cricket Council) and these franchise events to get the right balance in the future for the players to know where they are going with their career,” said de Villiers.
“Franchise cricket is important, it played a huge part in my career, the IPL changed my life completely.
“It upped my skill as a player, getting used to different conditions and playing with some of my heroes. Now we have a competition at home in South Africa is great for our cricket and I am excited.
“There is a place for those tournaments and it is up to the big boards to get the decisions right.
“I have never been picking and choosing my games, it is making sure I am at my best kind of form in 2019 for that World Cup.
“That is the main goal, obviously there are a few stepping stones in order to get there.”
<figure><figcaption>South Africa's AB de Villiers's captaincy was called into question during the Champions Trophy but now he is ready to lead the side at the 2019 World Cup in England <span>Copyright AFP/File Glyn KIRK </span> </figcaption></figure>