Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
27 Jan 2017
2:16 pm

We always seem to fill the Kolpak gap, says AB de Villiers

Heinz Schenk

Proteas one-day skipper praises SA cricket's ability to keep producing fine cricketers despite its talent drain.

For every Dane Vilas that leaves, there's an Andile Phehlukwayo coming in, says AB de Villiers. Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images.

AB de Villiers isn’t worried about South African cricket’s player exodus to England.

The Proteas one-day skipper marks his return to the side against the backdrop of Dane Vilas becoming the latest established franchise cricketer to sign a Kolpak contract.

Also read: More Kolpak woes for SA cricket as Dane Vilas says ‘Cheers’

In fact, as South Africa prepare to face Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth for the first of five ODIs, he believes the voids constantly get filled again.

“The upside of the Kolpak contracts is that it’s great for young players coming through,” De Villiers said on Friday.

“It’s amazing how South African cricket keeps filling the gaps. The minute you start wondering about that guy’s injury or that guy’s departure, a replacement does the job really well.

“It speaks volume of the depth we have in this country. In all races and cultures, the talent just keeps popping up. I’m very excited about our cricket going forward.”

One of the youngsters exciting De Villiers is the lanky 20-year-old Lungi Ngidi, who took six wickets in the recently concluded T20 series.

But his promotion to one-day squad is stalled after the Proteas medical staff announced he tore an abdominal muscle whilst fielding in Wednesday’s T20 loss to Sri Lanka.

Ngidi will be out for 3-4 weeks and no replacement has been summoned to take his place in the squad.

“It was great to see his quick progress in the T20 series,” said De Villiers.

“He’s talented and seems to be really strong mentally. It’s unfortunate he fell badly during the Newlands game.”

The theme of the exuberance of youth was never far from the dynamic middle-order batter’s mind on Friday.

Despite the home side welcoming back numerous stalwarts in Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Kagiso Rabada, De Villiers is wary of Sri Lanka’s brigade of eager youngsters.

The Islanders have the added confidence of their unexpected T20 series win.

“I’ve been in that position before. I played in a Proteas side that had to take on Australia without a few established stars and we ended up winning 4-1,” said De Villiers.

“I know that feeling of motivation. That’s what Sri Lanka now has too. They came back really well in that T20 series. Even if we feel we are more experienced and skillful, we know the Sri Lankans are very dangerous.”

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