AB de Villiers's sore back an issue ahead of four-day Test
What's the story?
South Africa's veteran batsman AB de Villiers, though available for selection, is now facing an issue ahead of the inaugural four-day Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe starting on Boxing Day at Port Elizabeth because of a sore back.
“It's not really a big problem. It's a little niggle, something I have had for the last eight or nine years and something I have to manage with my workload," De Villiers said.
In case you didn't know...
De Villiers was ruled out of the practice match that Zimbabwe played against a South African Invitation XI before the Test as a result of continued stiffness in his lower back. His last Test for South Africa came nearly two years back in January 2016, having missed matches due to injuries as well as a sabbatical from the longest format.
The heart of the matter
With his absence from the warm-up match, his only first-class fixture since his previous Test – against England – remains a game for his domestic team Titans. This August, he confirmed his availability for South Africa across all formats after relinquishing the ODI captaincy and has since been practising with the red ball to keep in touch with the demands of Test cricket.
"I started off end of July facing red balls at the University of Pretoria, getting some technical stuff sorted out and I feel more ready than ever to take it on. I have been working for the last six months to get ready for this," De Villiers, 33, said.
"I had a few intense games in the last few months and I started feeling it again towards the end of the Ram Slam finals. There's nothing you can do.
"It's a little tweak. I was honest with the convener and a few guys and asked them for a few days off. The doctor also treated me and suggested I take a few days off. It's simple as that. I needed a bit of rest and I feel fit and ready to go again," he added.
The first ever four-day Test begins on December 26 at St George's Park, a game which would also be the maiden floodlit Test hosted by South Africa. The match was approved by the ICC only on a “trial basis” in order to see how the format folds up in the reduced time frame.
With South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis a doubt for the match, a vacancy created by De Villiers's sore back may lead to a massive loss of experience from the South African batting line-up. However, the team management will be cautious in not risking their key players ahead of a long home season which includes seven more Tests against India and Australia.