Cape Town - Legendary former Proteas captain Graeme Smith feels AB de Villiers should step down as skipper of the national cricket side - insisting he’s earned the right to choose when to bow out of the game.
De Villiers' Test match future is uncertain, with reports this week indicating that he could retire from Test cricket when he meets with Cricket South Africa (CSA) in August.
The Proteas captain had earlier this year informed Cricket South Africa (CSA) that he would be unavailable for this year's series against England and Bangladesh.
De Villiers said he still wanted to play the longer format and identified the end-of-year series against India as his desired return.
With workload his major concern, De Villiers said he needed to limit his playing time to ensure he was in the right physical condition for the 2019 World Cup.
But he could quit the five-day format altogether and Smith feels it would be the right decision.
Via a column for English publication, The Independent, Smith said De Villiers should instead focus on the next World Cup in 2019.
“It’s my belief that AB was looking to walk away from the Test game last year at some point, but has been encouraged to carry on by CSA,” Smith wrote.
“His personal prerogative is ensuring he does all he can to add as much longevity to his international career as possible, as well as taking in to account the harsh realities of touring such as the amount of travel involved, and the toll that takes on your body.
“AB has already made huge sacrifices for South African cricket, over such a long period of time, and with the next ICC World Cup just two years away, it’s likely that he is targeting that tournament as a swansong to his already illustrious career at the top level.”
According to Smith, De Villiers has nothing to prove to anyone and quitting the captaincy would be the right decision.
“AB is due to assess his future with CSA later this summer, and my advice to him would be to step away from the captaincy, and concentrate his energy in to maintaining his levels in white ball cricket for the next two years. Put simply, if that is what’s best for him and the longevity of his career, then that is what’s best for South African cricket.”
Sport24 asked CSA convenor of selectors Linda Zondi what the meetings with De Villiers in August would entail, but he did not divulge too much.
"For us, it's important that we start planning for 2019 now in terms of where all our players are, not just AB," said Zondo.
"We will definitely meet with a lot of them. And in terms of the ICC Trophy, we will have a debrief between all of us - selectors, players and management.
"I don't want to dwell too much on that until further notice."
The Proteas were eliminated from the group stages of the recent Champions Trophy and also lost a T20 series and ODI series against England under De Villiers' leadership.