Faf du Plessis on Wednesday said AB de Villiers will be welcomed back into the South African team ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
De Villiers, who hung up his boots from international cricket in 2018, recently said he ‘would love to’ make a return to South African side for the World Cup.
He added that he was in talks with the new South African setup, which included interim director of cricket, Graeme Smith, head coach Mark Boucher and skipper Du Plessis.
Ahead of the third Test against England at Port Elizabeth, Du Plessis said de Villiers’ return was very much on the cards, although de Villiers himself and assistant coach Enoch Nkwe have said the comeback is ‘far from finalised’.
De Villiers, while speaking to reporters after making BBL debut, admitted a lot needed to happen before the national return became a reality. "There's a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality," he said.
It was reported that he had offered to come out of his retirement to represent South Africa at the World Cup in England last year. His offer was rejected by skipper Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson, considering that it would be unfair to other players who had stepped up at that time.
It was Du Plessis who had revealed last month that he had been in talks with his one-time schoolmate, who is considered as one of the best players in the modern era.
"It's the same as what I mentioned before," said Du Plessis. "We spoke and I was very keen to have him back even before the new coaching staff was on board."
Team’s senior management including head coach Mark Boucher have indicated they are keen to have him on board for the World Cup in October.
"It was a process of what does the next year look like in terms of T20 cricket. How many games, where, when, what? And then try to unfold that in a way that he can come back.
"He's keen to come back. I don't know when. In an ideal world, we would like to make sure we can play our best 11, 12, 13 players for a few games or in a few series leading up to a T20 World Cup."
Du Plessis said he didn’t want a repetition of what had happened before the start of World Cup last year. Instead, he would prefer to fix the combination a little earlier so that players can play few games together.
"There was a search to find the players and the combinations. I would like to settle into that combination a little earlier so the guys can play as many games as possible together," he said.
De Villiers is currently making his first-ever appearance in the Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat, which will be ending on February 8. He will then perform his duties for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, which will be played between March 29 and May 24.
South Africa have plenty of games ahead of the World Cup to ponder over their combination. They will play three T20Is against England in February before taking on Australia at home for as many games.
They are also scheduled to play a five-match T20 series in the West Indies in August, before the World Cup starts off in October.