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T20 star AB de Villiers on Yorkshire’s radar for 2019

IN DEMAND: AB de Villiers, in action for South Africa in New Zealand last year. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
IN DEMAND: AB de Villiers, in action for South Africa in New Zealand last year. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
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YORKSHIRE want to sign South African superstar AB de Villiers.

The club are interested in recruiting de Villiers for next season’s Vitality T20 Blast.

De Villiers – one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era – quit international cricket last month complaining of tiredness.

He plans to take a prolonged break, but has indicated that he would like to continue playing T20.

“We’d certainly be interested in signing him,” said Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon, who has been in touch with the player’s agent.

“It’s unclear at the minute what he wants to play; it would appear that he’s only interested in T20, so we’ll just have to assess that when the time comes.

“I spoke to his agent just to find out what his plans were, and he said, ‘Well, he’s not going to do anything this year, and then he’s going to assess what he wants to do for next year in due course’.

“All we’ve done is post our interest to be kept informed of what his plans are.”

There would be no shortage of suitors should de Villiers make himself available to play in England. The 34-year-old – who may continue to represent the South African T20 franchise Titans – has no immediate plans to play overseas, but could be invigorated by a rest from the game.

In announcing his international retirement de Villiers said that he had “run out of gas” and did not want to “pick and choose” which formats/matches he played for his country.

Yorkshire CCC director of cricket, Martyn Moxon. 'Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Yorkshire CCC director of cricket, Martyn Moxon. 'Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

His career statistics speak for themselves: 8,765 runs in 114 Tests at an average of 50.66 with 22 hundreds; 9,577 runs in 228 one-day internationals at 53.50 with 25 hundreds, and an overall T20 record of 6,649 runs in 251 matches at 35.36, with three hundreds and a strike-rate of 147.

“Look, it’s early days,” added Moxon. “There would be a lot of competition for him, but I think that when someone of his quality becomes available you have to be interested and kept up to date with what his thinking is.

“He has so many qualities – not just as a player, but the experience that he would add to the dressing room, too.

“Ideally with overseas players you’re looking not only for good individual performances but also for the value that they can give to the dressing room in assisting young players in particular, and he ticks all those boxes ten times over.”

He has so many qualities – not just as a player, but the experience that he would add to the dressing room, too.

Martyn Moxon on AD de Villiers

Yorkshire have proved a big draw for top overseas stars in recent times. Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, will shortly return for his fourth stint with the club, while India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara – the No 6-ranked batsman in Test cricket – is enjoying his second spell with the White Rose.

Yorkshire’s courtship of de Villiers also highlights a strong commitment to winning the T20 tournament, an aspiration that has eluded them thus far. The club have only twice reached Finals Day, losing out to Hampshire in the 2012 final and then to Durham in the 2016 semi-finals.

“We definitely want to crack T20,” said Moxon. “We’ve got high ambitions and we want to win.

“Hopefully we can put in a strong challenge this year and are working hard to do just that. But we’re always on the lookout for the best players to help achieve our goals.”

Williamson’s return will aid Yorkshire’s quest to win the competition this year with the Kiwi available for the final nine games of the 14-match group stage plus any quarter-final.

Williamson’s first appearance will be the T20 Roses match at Old Trafford on July 20, and he is also available for three Championship games before leaving in early September.

Yorkshire had been due to have two T20 overseas players this summer only for Cricket Australia to pull the plug on fast bowler Billy Stanlake’s planned move.

Moxon said that the club have now effectively abandoned the idea of signing a replacement for Stanlake.

“We’ve pretty much scrapped the idea of getting another T20 overseas player for this season,” he said.

“We’ve made a few enquiries, but, at such a late stage, there aren’t that many players available, and with this Canadian T20 competition having sprung up as well that takes more players away from potential selection.

“We’re pretty much at the point now where we’re not going to replace Stanlake, but it’s not all doom and gloom by any means.

“What it will do is give our own players opportunities and that’s a good thing because it will help us to gauge where we are with them.”