The South Africa batsman called time on his 14-year international cricket earlier this year in a move which took the cricketing world by surprise. The 34-year-old had recently cited ‘unbearable’ pressure and demands of international cricket as the reason for his shock retirement.
His retirement did not go down too well with many in South Africa with some going as far as to accuse the batsman of being ‘selfish’. Steyn, though, has called on fans to cut ABD some slack.
“I believe AB doesn’t deserve to get a bad rap. Even though we both made our Test debuts in 2004, him and I are in two completely different boats. He is married with children and I only have dogs. Family time is a big pull for him right now. We spend on average 220 days of the year out of the country. It’s a long time to be away from your family especially when your children are growing up,” the Proteas pacer told Sport24.
While he lauded de Villiers’ commitment to the South African cause, Steyn believes that the country has enough young talent in the pipeline to make up for his absence.
“The pleasing aspect is the Proteas have managed to win without him. It’s nice that the circle (of talent) is getting bigger and there is hope for the future. Calling time on his international career has also given AB time to recover from a physical point of view. His back had been giving him trouble for so many years. Through sheer pride of representing South Africa he pushed on,” Steyn said.
Having retired from international cricket, de Villiers will continue to participate in the IPL where he is contracted to the Royal Challengers Bangalore and other franchise T20 leagues around the globe.
The 20-year-old is set to replace wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik in what is a must-win game for the visitors. Virat Kohli’s men have their backs to the wall after falling 0-2 behind in the five-match Test series and they will be hoping that Pant’s inclusion can provide the spark a turnaround.
Pant was seen hard at work with the wicketkeeping pads during the team’s practice session on Friday and all signs point towards him making his Test debut at Nottingham.
The left-hander proved his mettle for India ‘A’ in their recent shadow tour of England where he registered three half-centuries in four first-class innings. Karthik, meanwhile, has averaged just five with the bat since making his Test comeback for India and has struggled in the wicketkeeping department too on the tour of England so far.
From what I have seen these last two days here at India's nets... Rishabh Pant to make his Test debut tomorrow. #EngvInd— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) August 17, 2018
Also, Jasprit Bumrah should make his long awaited return from injury. The pacer was declared fit to bowl in the Test by Kohli on Friday and will in all likelihood replace Kuldeep Yadav in the line-up.
In the batting department, the opening position remains an issue for India with none of Murali Vijay, KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan firing so far. While Vijay is expected to keep his place as the senior opener, it remains to be seen who Kohli picks as his partner at Trent Bridge.
Having recovered from the thumb injury he sustained against Ireland in a T20, Bumrah too, like Pant, was given an extended session on Friday and his comeback should be a huge boost for the visitors.
Hosts England announced their playing XI on Friday with the returning Ben Stokes replacing Sam Curran.
The all-rounder’s return, after being cleared of affray charges, is the only change to the England team which won at Lord’s with Chris Woakes keeping his place in the side after his player of the match performance.
India likely XI: Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami
England XI: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Kieron Pollard hit his maiden T20 hundred to hand St Lucia Stars their first win in 15 matches in the Caribbean Premier League, setting up a 38-run triumph over Barbados Tridents.
The Stars looked almost certain to end their losing streak a day earlier against Trinbago Knight Riders, but failed to defend 85 in the last five overs to suffer a five-wicket defeat.
However, St Lucia got a chance to bounce back withing 24 hours and captain Pollard led by example, smashing a 53-ball century – his first in T20s in his 384th innings – and starring in a 148-run stand with Andre Fletcher (80 from 52) to take his team to a CPL record total of 226-6.
Tridents opener Dwayne Smith hit 58 off 45 deliveries, but there no serious challenge as Barbados’ run-chase came up well short on 188-6.