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'Don't want to be the guy just to say give up a format or two' - AB de Villiers on packed calendar

A crunch-cricketing schedule through the years has imbalanced the workload management of quite some players. However, AB de Villiers does not encourage retiring from a format or two to manage the same.

Do not want to be the guy just to say give up a format or two - AB de Villiers on packed calendar-ayh
First Published Jan 26, 2023, 5:41 PM IST

South Africa great AB de Villiers feels it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep players "inspired" for all three formats amid the punishing schedule, creating a pressing need for cricket boards and cricketers to have honest communication over the latter's preferred choice of formats. The 38-year-old shocked the cricketing world with his international retirement in 2018 and said his playing career could have been managed better. Three years later, he retired from all forms of cricket. He left the game to spend more time with family, which has become a luxury for an all-format modern cricketer. Considering the ever-crowded international calendar and mushrooming of Twenty20 (T20) leagues worldwide, playing all three formats has become possible by taking frequent breaks in between.

England Test captain Ben Stokes was forced to retire from One-Day Internationals (ODIs) last year as he could not go on giving his best across formats. "That's a tough question. Because I don't want to be the guy to say give up a format or two. And, once again, it's a global cricketing issue to keep the players inspired to play all formats of the game for their countries," De Villiers told PTI when asked about the need for picking formats amid the relentless scheduling.

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De Villiers believes the players' careers could be extended if they were clear about their ambitions across formats. He also expects the cricketing boards to communicate to the players where they stand in their scheme of things. "But I do think there's a room with the various boards around the world to pinpoint players, to have community discussions and communication early on in players' careers, to understand what they want to achieve, first of all, and secondly, where they fit in with regards to the cricket in their own country to represent the country internationally," he reckoned.

"But, also to be happy to play leagues worldwide and gain experience. It's invaluable. We spoke about it earlier, players like SKY [Suryakumar Yadav], Dewald Brevis and myself, the way we took our games to the next level, primarily because of these leagues," added de Villiers.

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"So, ultimately, that is what we want to achieve. If it's not achievable. And if there's a clear sign that a player is weak in one format, or is not as inspired to achieve milestones to go a long way in one or two forms, then yes, but that communication needs to happen," de Villiers continued.

"And, during my career, communication could have been better from my side, but also from the Cricket South Africa side to make sure that we plan accordingly. So, it comes down to communication," said 'Mr.360'. De Villiers is part of the SA20 commentary panel. The inaugural competition has taken an eight-day break to accommodate the ODI series between hosts South Africa and England, highlighting the scheduling challenges faced by boards.

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"I don't think it is [break] ideal. So, difficult to get the scheduling right and keep everyone happy. We want to see countries take each other on. It is the ultimate form of viewership, but with all these leagues, the excitement is there and financially healthy. It isn't elementary for the ICC [International Cricket Council] and everyone to ensure that the scheduling benefits everyone. I honestly don't know the answer," said de Villiers.

'Doubt if we will ever see Indian players in overseas leagues'
The Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) doesn't allow Indian players to feature in overseas T20 leagues, and it will not change in the foreseeable future. De Villiers sees a lot of merit in BCCI's stance.

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"I would love to see it happening very soon, but you don't see Indian players being released for leagues worldwide. So, that will never change. And, rightfully so. The BCCI has a clear plan with the players. They want to win World Cups. They want to ensure the players have the exposure they need, and obviously, there's no league better than the IPL. Once some of the leagues maybe knock on their door, you never know," de Villiers concluded.

(With inputs from PTI)

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