Port Elizabeth - Keeping wicket for the Proteas and playing a central role as a batsman is a dream come true, said AB de Villiers in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
"I really love the position I’m in at the moment with my role as the wicketkeeper and also as a top-order batsman," De Villiers said after signing autographs for a queue of fans at St George’s Park.
"I know I will have to perform well, and continually improve my 'keeping and my batting, because I definitely want to be the Test wicketkeeper for many years to come."
Playing such a pivotal role in the side had not affected his batting, De Villiers said, referring to his 169 against Australia in the last Test in Perth six weeks ago.
"I scored a good hundred and feel I’m in good form but I still work hard on my game all the time," the 28-year-old said.
"Wicketkeeping is something I’ve done since I was about eight years old. When I came into the side, Mark Boucher was the wicketkeeper but now I’ve got my opportunity and I hope to prove myself and hold onto the job for a very long time."
De Villiers’s ongoing struggle with his back would not hinder him if his career was managed carefully and he sat out for some of the less crucial games.
"I’ve always had a bit of a weak back. It started at a young age and I’ve worked really hard on it with physio Brandon Jackson. I’ve also taken self-responsibility by making sure I’m as fit as can be and I’m looking after my core stability," he said.
"I didn’t play in the T20s against New Zealand and, although I want to play as much as possible, I have to keep in mind the seasons are much longer these days and I need to be fit for a longer period of time." Having made his Test debut in Port Elizabeth in December 2004, against England, De Villiers said St George’s Park held fond memories for him.
He was expecting the wicket to be slower than the one at Newlands and said the second Test was likely to stretch over the full five days.
"The wicket doesn’t do as much here. It’s a bit slower so you have to work for your wickets and you have to work for your runs as well," he said.
"You will probably see lower run-rates from the batsmen as you’ve got to fight hard to get your rewards - which we’re prepared to do and looking forward to it."
The Proteas were expecting the New Zealanders to bounce back after their three-day thrashing in the first Test and were cognisant of the fact that - apart from the Kiwis’ first innings of 45 all out - the honours were even for most of the match.
"We didn’t dominate at Newlands like we thought we would," De Villiers admitted.
"If it wasn’t for that first session, it was probably a 50/50 match and we didn’t make it count like we know we should have - so we have a lot of room for improvement."
He said the Proteas were working on their fluctuating performances and had to fix the problem if they were to remain at the top of the ICC Test rankings for the foreseeable future.
"We constantly talk about our inconsistency because we want to stay No 1 for many years to come.
"To do that, we’ve got to take it one game at a time. Our focus is now on this match in Port Elizabeth where we haven’t played well in the past. We want to change that and, if we get through this one, it will definitely a big step in the right direction."