Cape Town - Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat has defended AB de Villiers’ decision to make himself unavailable for the Proteas’ Test series in New Zealand in March.
Reports at the weekend indicated that De Villiers’ future in the longer format of the game was uncertain.
De Villiers responded to the speculation on Tuesday by insisting he was not quitting Test cricket, telling the 702 radio station: “I'm not retiring out of any format, that's for sure. I am not prepared to do that."
The 32-year-old however highlighted that the 2019 Cricket World Cup (in England) was his main priority and emphasised the need to manage his workload.
De Villiers subsequently pulled out of South Africa’s three-Test series against the Kiwis which left question marks about his commitment to the national team’s cause.
But Lorgat was quick to defend the star Proteas batsman, telling the TimesLIVE website: “Firstly AB is not picking and choosing. It is a plan that we had six months ago and it's a case of when he starts and when he returns."
“There have been deliberate discussions in terms of when he starts. ODI cricket is the focus because he's the captain. There's no picking and choosing in that regard but with Test cricket it's different because he's not the captain and we've got a settled side and we've got the resources.”
De Villiers has not played red ball cricket for South Africa since last January’s home series against England.
An elbow injury then hampered his year and he has been out of action in all formats since July.
He is now set to make his return to the international stage in the third T20I against Sri Lanka in Cape Town this month.
Before that he will play an amateur one-day game for Northerns in Benoni on Sunday.
Lorgat further told AFP he hoped De Villiers would be available for the four-Test series in England in July.
"I’ve been engaged with him for some time and we’ve given him the latitude of taking time off and setting himself for the 2019 World Cup," the CSA boss continued.
"We’re taking it one series at a time. I’m confident that by the time we get towards looking at England and the Champions Trophy (in June), he'll be fully fit and raring to go. His appetite would have returned because then it would be a fair amount of time he has had. I'm confident England is a kind of series that he would want to be available for."