Cape Town - It is highly unlikely, but Proteas captain Faf du Plessis still can't close the door on a possible return to international cricket for AB de Villiers.
Du Plessis was addressing media at Cape Town International Airport on Monday after his side's tour to Australia, and it didn't take long for De Villiers' name to come up once again.
That is likely to be case between now and the 2019 World Cup in England, which starts in May next year, especially if De Villiers keeps scoring runs domestically.
The 34-year-old De Villiers said before the start of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) that he was hitting the ball "almost better than ever", and he was explosive for the Tshwane Spartans in the tournament opener on Friday when he blasted 59 off 37 in a losing cause.
De Villiers then smashed 32 off just 18 in the Spartans' win over the Paarl Rocks on Sunday and his shot-making in both of those knocks was a stark reminder of the quality of the man.
When pressed on the issue, Du Plessis could not definitively say that De Villiers would not feature in England.
"AB would be the guy to change his mind. It was his decision to retire, so if he had a change of heart then by Pakistan we would like to be picking our best team by then," said Du Plessis.
"In your perfect world, you would have to let the powers that be know before then."
The Proteas host Pakistan for five ODIs in the second half of January, and Du Plessis is adamant that De Villiers would need to avail himself to the national cause before then.
When asked if the door was still open, Du Plessis did not provide a "yes" or a "no".
"Victor Matfield retired from international rugby and he came back and I suppose nobody would have ever thought he would come back," Du Plessis said to laughter.
"AB is a world class player, but it was AB's decision to retire and if he wanted to come back it would have to be a discussion, but it's obviously his decision. It won't be a decision from the team.
"He made it pretty clear in the conversations that I've had with him that he was done with international cricket and he was very convincing even when I was trying to find a way to change his mind."
When asked about a potential return at Newlands on Friday, De Villiers was more definite in his answer.
"I’m very happy to be playing cricket again in the T20 format. It’s light on the body, there’s not a lot of pressure, I’m playing in my country," he said.
"I’m just happy to be here, I don’t want to think about other stuff. My family’s not far away and I’m doing what I love. I'm just happy with where I’m at for now ... one day at a time."