Mark Boucher open to asking AB de Villiers to come out of retirement

South Africa

Mark Boucher, South Africa’s new head coach, would welcome the availability of Kolpak players and recent retirees, including AB de Villiers, as he plots the national team’s way forward.

Having worked in the franchise system for the last four seasons, Boucher has first-hand knowledge of the calibre of players available to the national side and acknowledged that the country’s talent pool could do with deepening. Asked whether he would like to be able to select players based abroad, Boucher said: “If I can answer from a coach’s perspective, absolutely. If you look at rugby, the way the Springboks won the World Cup, the experience they got from players playing overseas was invaluable. From a coach’s perspective, I’d love to have the opportunity to deepen and strengthen the squad. It will keep everyone on their toes and will bring more excellence into the game in this country.”

While Boucher is not in control of the regulations around Kolpak, he may be able to have a say among recent retirees, especially those whom he has a close relationship with. Boucher played with de Villiers and currently coaches him at the Tshwane Spartans, who will play in the Mzansi Super League final on Monday. De Villiers is fourth on the tournament run-charts and has demonstrated strong strokeplay and innovation throughout the tournament. His white-ball form remains consistent and his ability unmatched.

De Villiers retired from all formats of international cricket in May 2018, citing a heavy workload, but with a T20 World Cup 10 months away, Boucher was not averse to trying to convince de Villiers to come back. “When you go to a World Cup, you want your best players playing for you,” Boucher said. “If I feel he is one of your best players, why wouldn’t I want to have a conversation with him? I’ve only just got into the job, I might have conversations with quite a few players and see where they are.”

He also indicated players may be allowed greater flexibility if they can add value to South Africa cricket. “You want your best players playing in the World Cup and if there’s a couple of issues you need to iron out, with media, with team-mates, and if it’s for the good of South Africa, why not, let’s do it.”

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