AB de Villiers rates Port Elizabeth Test century against Australia as his best

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AB de Villiers rated his Port Elizabeth Test century as his best.

AB de Villiers says his best ever international century was for South Africa in the Port Elizabeth Test against Australia earlier this year.

The 34-year-old called quits on his South Africa career in May, 14 years after making his debut for his country in 2004.

During that time, he scored 22 centuries in 114 Tests and 25 in his 228 ODIs as he established himself as one of the world’s best batsmen.

His last international series came against Australia in May, where he scored an unbeaten 126 in the second Test to help South Africa level the series which the hosts would later go on to win.

The all-rounder rated that knock as his best in South Africa colours.

“I think my most memorable knocks have always been in the longer version of the game – Test cricket – and none better than that last hundred that I scored in PE (Port Elizabeth) against the Australians,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

“That was the most enjoyable series in my life. I had doubts that I would come back, I always wanted to just come and play for another season or two.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent sure that I’m going to finish after the Australian series, but the plan was to come back, and I’m really proud of the fact that I could come back and played two of my best series for my country.”

AB de Villiers excelled in all formats

AB de Villiers excelled in all formats

In a career spanning 14 years, de Villiers admitted he would not played for so long if he didn’t have the passion.

“I’ve had that from a very young age, and I don’t think it’s something you can teach a youngster – it’s just a deep desire and a hunger and a love for something that you’re never going to give up,” he said.

“So I was always going to try as much as I can, as hard as I could, to become the best player in the world.”

The batsman is only a handful of cricketers to excel in all three formats and he insists it’s all down to having the same fundamentals.

“I base my plan on the same fundamentals and the same basics in all three of the formats that I play in,” he added.

“I’ve never changed that. The only thing that changes is my mindset a little bit at times.

“I’ve always kept it very simple. I’m a big believer that basics stay the same for all the formats. I don’t overthink things.

“I want my mind to be 100 per cent clear so I try not to think about too many things.

“I’ll have a bit of a pre-ball routine. I’ll make my mark, and then once I switch on and the bowler’s coming in, I try and think of absolutely nothing.

“I try and make sure that I see the ball coming out of the bowler’s hands, and then my technique and my body take over. I clear my mind and see the ball out of the bowler’s hand – that’s all I think about in all three of the formats.”

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Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane give India the edge after Day 1 of third Test against England

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Ajinkya Rahane celebrated a welcome return to form.

Virat Kohli upstaged the returning Ben Stokes as India narrowly had the better of day one in the third Test at Trent Bridge.

Kohli made 97 and Ajinkya Rahane contributed 81 as they shared India’s ground-record fourth-wicket stand to give the tourists a foothold at last in the series where they trail 2-0.

India reached 307 for six at stumps after Joe Root put them in.

The scene was set here for Stokes to take centre stage on his return to Test cricket, a controversial selection with some despite his affray acquittal at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday.

But try as he might, England‘s premier all-rounder drew a blank in four spells – and it was Chris Woakes who gave India most to think about until Kohli and Rahane took over in a partnership of 159.

Woakes took three for 75 on Saturday, having stepped into the side and impressed at Lord’s last week when Stokes was busy in Bristol.

Kohli and Rahane shut out England during the afternoon and well into the evening, before both fell short of three figures – Kohli eventually caught at slip by Stokes, aiming to hit an Adil Rashid leg-break for the boundary which would have completed his hundred.

India nonetheless held sway, debutant wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant hitting his first Test runs with a six over long-on second ball off Rashid in a handy stand with Hardik Pandya either side of the second new ball.

The tourists appeared determined from the outset to make sure England’s bowlers would have to work harder here than for their quickfire, landslide win at rainy Lord’s.

The new ball swung prodigiously under cloud cover.

But Shikhar Dhawan, back as opener in place of Murali Vijay after India made three changes to their losing team, batted with good sense and skill, as did KL Rahul.

The result was a partnership of 60, at that point India’s highest for any wicket in the series, only for the introduction of Woakes to spark a lunchtime wobble.

Dhawan’s was the first of three wickets to fall for 22 runs, neatly caught at second slip as he edged one on the back-foot defence.

Rahul was then unable to handle exaggerated seam movement, which pinned him lbw defending deep in his crease, before Cheteshwar Pujara hooked the last ball of the morning straight to Rashid at long leg.

Kohli stood aghast at the non-striker’s end, all the more entrenched for the second session as he and Rahane duly put together an exemplary stand.

There was barely an anxious moment as they profited especially off Stokes and also when Root turned to Rashid – who was farmed, risk-free, for almost six an over in his first spell.

The evening began with a wonderful effort by James Anderson while attempting a one-handed catch above his head at point as Rahane launched a ferocious cut at Woakes on 57.

It stopped a certain four but Anderson could not hold on, and it was only a moment of brilliance from Alastair Cook at slip that eventually broke the partnership – Rahane with the edge off Stuart Broad and England’s former captain displaying memorable reactions to hold the half-chance one-handed away to his left.

Kohli seemed sure to bag his second century of the summer, until his misadventure against Rashid.

But India still finished on top.

Keaton Jennings put down a straightforward catch at third slip when Broad got extra bounce to hit Pandya on glove and shoulder – but the deserving Anderson had the same batsman edging the final ball of the day for Jos Buttler’s second slip catch.

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Durham say they have signed an 'outstanding young man' in Cameron Bancroft

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Heading to England: Cameron Bancroft

Durham chief executive Tim Bostock has insisted the club has signed “an outstanding young man” after handing disgraced Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft a chance to rehabilitate himself.

The 25-year-old will head for Chester-le-Street as the club’s overseas player for 2019 after completing a ban following his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal which rocked world cricket earlier this year.

Coming at the end of a week during which Durham and England all-rounder Ben Stokes had been acquitted of affray, it left Durham in the spotlight, but well aware of its responsibilities.

Bostock told Press Association Sport: “It’s not a responsibility we take lightly at all.

“He (Bancroft) is an outstanding cricketer – that’s the first thing – he’s actually an outstanding young man. I have been living in Australia for a period of time, I’ve got lots of Australian friends, the guys in our changing room, they know him.

“We have done some due diligence around Cameron as a character – we do that around all of the players that we sign, to be perfectly honest. It’s very important that they fit into the dressing room and they fit into the Durham way of doing things.

“He’s an incredibly professional guy, hard-working, and I think he will set the right example for the younger guys, as well as some of the older guys as well.

“The time he’s had off has been very sobering for him. He certainly realises he’s made a huge mistake.

“He’s been punished for that, quite rightly. Cameron is looking forward to getting back out on the field – that’s where his real passion is, playing cricket.”

Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension for attempting to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town with captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner receiving 12-month bans.

Durham made no mention of the scandal in their press release announcing the opener’s capture, but Bostock was adamant the club had done their homework.

He said: “It’s purely a cricket decision. Everybody makes mistakes and he was punished for it, and obviously he has served that suspension.

“It was a cricket decision, but as I said earlier, it’s important that we look at the character of individuals as well and we’re very happy that Cameron will add an awful lot to our dressing room in the right sort of way.

“He’s incredibly keen. He’s been, obviously, very frustrated, but he understands completely the reasons why he’s been restricted to playing club cricket.

“He’s doubly determined to rehabilitate himself, if you like, and not just by scoring runs. I think he really wants to demonstrate he actually is a fine young man, and we know he is.”

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