Cape Town - It appears, finally, that AB de Villiers' wicketkeeping days in Test cricket are behind him.
The 32-year-old was given the gloves by selectors at the start of the ongoing series against England.
The plan initially was for De Villiers to keep for the first two Tests in Durban and Cape Town before another squad was announced for the final two Tests.
That plan didn't work out too well.
With the Proteas top order struggling once more in Durban and with De Villiers looking less than convincing behind the stumps, Quinton de Kock was brought into the side for the Cape Town Test as De Villiers was allowed to focus wholeheartedly on his batting.
And now, with the added responsibility and extra clout that comes with being Test captain, it seems highly unlikely that we will see De Villiers behind the stumps in the longer format again.
"I would say that we
would like to keep the flexibility, but I think there are less chances at the
end of the day," convener of selectors Linda Zondi told Sport24 on Monday.
"We sent Quinton to the SA 'A' side when we dropped him after Bangladesh.
I can honestly say, touch wood, I think that Quinny is probably our long term
goal … and any other keeper who plays well in the franchise setup if Quinny
doesn’t come through or lacks form.
"Slowly but surely I think we are moving
towards a situation where we are saying, from a Test point of view, where AB
may not keep, but you never know … we are flexible when it comes to that."
With De Villiers the likeliest option to be given the Test captaincy on a permanent basis after the England series, and with his workload in the national setup very much a concern of the powers that be, it is hard to see that flexibility ever being exercised again.