De Villiers ‘excited’ to lead Proteas T20 side

South Africa

AB de Villiers says he is ‘excited’ to lead South Africa in the three-match T20I series against England starting at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday.

De Villiers captains the team in the absence of Faf du Plessis – who has been rested for the series – and hopes to lead a spirited fightback after a tough few weeks in the UK.

He says the new faces in the squad have brought fresh energy and hunger following the disappointment of the ICC Champions Trophy, and sees the series as an opportunity for the inexperienced players to make an impact on the international stage.

“I’m excited to play in the three T20’s,” he said at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday.

“It was a tough few days after being knocked out of the Champions Trophy; going through the phase of reflecting, hearing the criticism, which is never easy.

“I have always been the person to try and see the positive and the opportunity to improve, these three matches give me that opportunity as a player and as captain of the team.

“We have a few new faces here,” he added. It’s great to work with some of the new players, it has always been one of my dreams to give back what I have learnt over the years.

“I’m getting that opportunity with some of the youngsters in the team, it’s great to see the talent coming through and we are excited to start tomorrow.”

Both squads have rewarded domestic performances with the inclusion of some unfamiliar faces, which gives the series an exciting element of the unknown.

The Proteas won the last T20I series between the two teams 2-0 in 2016.

Although the date of the next ICC World T20 tournament is yet to be confirmed, De Villiers says bilateral T20 series are important and relevant for the international game.

He believes the T20 Global League heading to South Africa in November and December will be another incentive to unearth potential stars.

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“They are important,” he said of bilateral T20 series. “It’s important for the ICC and the franchise tournaments going on to get the right balance in the future for all players to feel they know where they are going with their careers.

“Franchise cricket played a huge role in my career, the IPL changed my life completely. It upped my skills as a player, as a youngster I got to know different conditions, played with some of my heroes.

“To have the T20 Global League in South Africa is an unbelievable opportunity for some of the young talent to play with some of the best players in the world at a high level of cricket. It’s great for our cricket, I’m excited for the tournament.”