AB de Villiers says he would "love" to make a South Africa comeback but says talk of him playing in the T20 World Cup is premature.

The maverick batsman announced his retirement from international cricket in May 2018 as he had "run out of gas."

Mark Boucher said it would be remiss of him not to try to tempt De Villiers, who turns 36 next month, to play for his country again after he was appointed as Proteas head coach last month.

Captain Faf du Plessis has also spoken of his hope that one of South Africa's greatest ever players will grace the international stage again and talks had been held over a return.

De Villiers is not getting ahead of himself, but would jump at the chance to feature in the T20 World Cup in Australia this year.

"There's a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality," he said after scoring a quickfire 40 on his Big Bash League debut for Brisbane Heat in a thrashing of Adelaide Strikers on Tuesday.

"I would love to. I've been talking to Bouch, Graeme Smith [South Africa director of cricket] and Faf back home, we're all keen to make it happen.

"It's a long way away still, and plenty can happen – there's the IPL coming up, I've still got to be in form at that time. 

"So I'm thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping that everything will work out. 

"It's not a guarantee, once again. I don't want to disappoint myself or other people, so for now I'm just going to try and keep a low profile, try and play the best possible cricket that I can and then see what happens towards the end of the year."

De Villiers appeared in 114 Tests for his country, with 228 ODI and 78 T20s under his belt.

Brisbane Heat romped to a seven-wicket win over Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League after skittling their opponents for 110.

The hosts were dominant in Brisbane as James Pattinson starred with the ball, claiming a five-for as Adelaide failed to bat out their 20 overs.

Left with such a meagre total to chase, the Heat initially toiled as they lost two early wickets, but Matt Renshaw and BBL debutant AB de Villiers' 77-run partnership took the game away from the visitors.

The result moves the Heat above the Strikers and into fourth.

 

PATTINSON FIVE-FOR STRANGLES STRIKERS

Each of the top five Strikers batsmen fell to Pattinson, who may not have been the most economic of the bowlers, but he was certainly the most dangerous.

Having posted 0-52 on his BBL return against Perth Scorchers at the weekend, the Australian went for 33 on Tuesday but also tallied up his victims.

Jonathan Wells (14) was the only top-order batsman to make it into double figures as the Strikers fluffed their lines badly in the powerplay. 

Rashid Khan's 28 down the order was the best contribution, but when Liam O'Connor was the last man out without scoring, it was clear Adelaide had come up well short of a competitive total. 

DE VILLIERS AND RENSHAW GET A GRIP

Perhaps there was an element of complacency in the way the Heat set about their very modest chase.

Captain Chris Lynn went for a golden duck and Max Bryant followed him after a brisk 10 from five balls.

It needed Renshaw (52) and De Villiers to get a hold on things, with the latter falling for 40 and leaving Joe Burns (10) to come in and help finish the job with 28 balls to spare.

Faf du Plessis says AB de Villiers has already held discussions over a potential South Africa comeback.

De Villiers retired from international cricket in May 2018, stating he had "run out of gas".

New Proteas head coach Mark Boucher said it would be remiss of him not to try to tempt one of South Africa's greatest batsman to have a change of heart, with the T20 World Cup on the horizon next year.

South Africa captain Du Plessis revealed talks with the 35-year-old started a few months ago.

"People want AB to play and I am no different," said Du Plessis, speaking to reporters after playing for Paarl Rocks against Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League final.

"Those conversations have been happening for two or three months already: What does it look like? How does it look over the next year? And that's where it starts.

"T20 cricket is a different beast, it's not a lot of time away from home. If you are a full campaigner, you have to really get stuck in and spend a lot of time on the road.

"Test cricket now is the most important thing but also the T20 World Cup is not too far away and there isn't a lot - I reckon 20 T20s over the season - which won't be that hard on one to do that.

"Those conversations have already taken place and will continue to before the next T20 series starts."

De Villiers is set to make his Big Bash League debut for Brisbane Heat next month.

Steve Smith will make a long-awaited Big Bash League return and AB de Villiers should ignite the Brisbane Heat in a shortened tournament with a new finals format.

Smith, the best Test batsman in the world, will feature in the competition for the first time since 2014 after rejoining the Sydney Sixers.

Maverick former South Africa batsman De Villiers will make his BBL debut for a Heat side who have been installed as bookmakers' favourites, with former Australia boss Darren Lehmann returning as head coach.

The Melbourne Renegades are expected to mount a strong challenge to retain a title they won in February with a derby defeat of Melbourne Stars, who have will Dale Steyn in their attack for six matches.

There will also be a welcome return for Glenn Maxwell, back in action for the Stars after taking a break to deal with personal mental health issues.

Here, we examine teams and players to look out for and explain changes to the schedule for the 2019-20 edition, which gets under way when the Heat face the Thunder at The Gabba on Tuesday.

 

FINALS REVAMP PART OF SCHEDULE CHANGE

There were calls for change due to dwindling crowds in an eighth edition of the tournament that dragged on too long.

Cricket Australia has taken note of criticism, reducing the length of the competition from 54 to 42 days and revamping the finals format.

There will be 15 days with two matches played in order to cut the length of the BBL.

Five of the eight teams will reach the finals rather than four, with the sides in first and second place at the end of the regular season having two chances to reach the final.

 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER FOR SMITH

Sixers fans have had to wait a long time to see Smith in their side and they will have to hope his arrival does not come when their title chances are over.

The former Australia captain, part of the Sixers squad that won the inaugural Big Bash in January 2012, will not be available until the back end of the competition due to Australia commitments.

Josh Hazlewood is also scheduled to join the Sixers after featuring for Australia following the Test series against New Zealand and ODIs in India, with the hope he will be fully fit after suffering a hamstring injury in the first Test against the Black Caps.

 

MARSH AND NEW COACH CAN HELP RENEGADES KLING ON TO TITLE

Michael Klinger took over as Renegades coach after Andrew McDonald was appointed Australia assistant coach in October.

McDonald will be a hard act to follow, but the addition of batsman Shaun Marsh is a big coup for the defending champions.

Disciplined bowling was key to their maiden BBL triumph and they have managed to retain left-arm seamer Harry Gurney, while big things will be expected of Kane Richardson once again.

 

HEAT SHOULD WARM TO THE TASK UNDER LEHMANN

Brisbane handed Lehmann his first role coaching role since he quit as Australia boss following the Newlands ball-tampering scandal in March 2018. Lehmann was cleared of involvement in that ploy.

Lehmann, who replaces Daniel Vettori, oversaw the Heat's 2012-13 Big Bash title success and it would be no surprise if he celebrates a repeat.

De Villiers will make his debut for Brisbane, while explosive England batsman Tom Banton, Ben Laughlin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan are also exciting additions.

New South Africa head coach Mark Boucher may try to convince AB de Villiers he should come out of international retirement.

Interim director of cricket Graeme Smith on Saturday revealed he appointed former wicketkeeper-batsman Boucher to "bring the toughness to turn a young and inexperienced Proteas squad into a battle-ready outfit".

Boucher has not ruled out turning to some older players with plenty of knowhow ahead of the T20 World Cup next year, including maverick 35-year-old batsman De Villiers.

"When you go to a World Cup, you want your best players playing for you," said Boucher, who will be assisted by Enoch Nkwe.

"If I feel he is one of your best players, why wouldn't I want to have a conversation with him? I've only just got into the job, I might have conversations with quite a few players and see where they are."

Boucher added: "You want your best players playing in the World Cup and if there's a couple of issues you need to iron out, with media, with team-mates, and if it's for the good of South Africa, why not, let's do it."

Boucher has no power over selecting players that moved overseas to take up Kolpak deals but would welcome being able to call upon them.

"If I can answer from a coach's perspective, absolutely. If you look at rugby, the way the Springboks won the World Cup, the experience they got from players playing overseas was invaluable." said the 43-year-old, who retired from playing in 2012 due to a serious eye injury.

"From a coach's perspective, I'd love to have the opportunity to deepen and strengthen the squad. It will keep everyone on their toes and will bring more excellence into the game in this country."

Royal Challengers Bangalore avoided an unwanted Indian Premier League record by finally getting up and running with an eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab despite Chris Gayle's unbeaten 99.

Defeat for RCB would have seen them become the first side in IPL history to lose their first seven matches of the tournament, but they stopped the rot in Mohali on Saturday.

The in-form Gayle struck five sixes and 10 fours in a brilliant knock, KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh the next highest scorers with 18 as Kings XI posted 173-4.

Gayle would have been out without scoring in the first over if Kohli had reviewed when Umesh Yadav rapped him on the pads and the opener took advantage of that stroke of luck.

Kohli made 67 from 53 balls before AB de Villiers (59 not out from 38) and Marcus Stoinis (26no off 15) saw Bangalore home with four balls to spare.

 

 

GAYLE CASHES IN AFTER EARLY LET-OFF

Gayle should have been on his way when he was struck in front by Yadav but the finger did not go up and Kohli opted against a review.

That proved to be costly as the self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' cut loose, hitting two sixes off a Mohammed Siraj over which went for 24 runs.

The West Indies opener brought up his half-century off only 28 balls and, after being dropped by Kohli on 83, he finished one shy of a hundred after hitting the final ball of the innings from Siraj for four.

 

KOHLI MAKES AMENDS

While it was not a day to remember for Kohli in the field, he made amends with a typically brilliant second half-century of the tournament.

The India captain went through his repertoire of classy strokes and motored to 50 in 37 balls. 

He put on 85 with De Villiers for the second wicket before hooking Mohammed Shami straight to a perfectly placed Murugan Ashwin.

 

DE VILLIERS AND STOINIS FINISH IT OFF

RCB needed 46 to win off 27 deliveries when Kohli departed and De Villiers and Stoinis stepped up to see them home.

Stoinis breathed a sigh of relief when Ashwin put down a skier, then De Villiers added insult to injury by hitting the next ball from Australian Andrew Tye over the ropes in an eventful 18th over that cost 18 runs.

De Villiers got down on one knee to smash Shami for six leaving RCB needing only six off the last over and Stoinis dispatched Sarfaraz Khan's first ball for four and took two off the next to win it.

Andre Russell produced an astonishing late onslaught as Kolkata Knight Riders made sure Royal Challengers Bangalore are still searching for their first win in the 2019 Indian Premier League.

The West Indies all-rounder belted seven sixes as he made an unbeaten 48 from just 13 deliveries, helping the Knight Riders overhaul their opponents' total of 205-3 with five balls to spare.

Having arrived at the crease with the score at 139-4 in the 16th over, Russell managed a single from his first four legal deliveries as the Royal Challengers appeared on course to break their duck in this season's competition.

However, his whirlwind knock made the task of 53 runs from the final three overs a breeze, with the five-wicket triumph lifting Kolkata up to second in the table.

Bangalore, in contrast, remain stuck at the bottom. A fifth successive defeat did not appear on the cards at the halfway stage of the contest, with two of their star names shining with the bat.

Captain Virat Kohli top-scored with 84 from 49 deliveries and shared a second-wicket stand of 108 with AB de Villiers, who made 63. However, Russell eclipsed the pair with a dazzling display of hitting down the stretch.

 

SOUTHEE SUFFERS IN THRILLING CHASE

When Tim Southee started the penultimate over of the game, the Knight Riders required 30 from 12 deliveries. By the time the New Zealander had finished his spell, the scores were level.

After Shubman Gill started the over with a single, Russell smashed 28 runs off the next five balls. A quartet of sixes included two over midwicket, while the boundary in the blitz came with a cheeky steer over wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel when Southee dropped in a short ball.

Russell has now managed 207 runs in this year's IPL from 77 deliveries, putting him third on the top-scorers' list behind Sunrisers Hyderabad duo David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. His tally includes an astonishing 22 sixes.

Kolkata needed their in-form player to fire, too. Chris Lynn made 43 at the top of the order and there were also contributions from Robin Uthappa (33) and Nitish Rana (37), though the Royal Challengers appeared to be in control until the game came to a dramatic - and hasty - conclusion.

 

KOLHI SHINES DESPITE RCB'S GLOOMY OUTLOOK

Bangalore have found runs hard to come by in this campaign - they had been bowled out for scores of 70 and 113 prior to Friday - but found some form after being put in by Kolkata.

Kohli produced successive drives for four to get up and running at the start of his innings, albeit Bangalore's run-rate slowed after finishing the powerplay on 53 without loss.

Opener Patel fell with the score on 64, trapped lbw for 25, but the initial breakthrough only allowed De Villiers to combine with his skipper in a thrilling century partnership.

After the former South Africa international departed, Marcus Stoinis made an unbeaten 28 in a hurry to lift Bangalore beyond 200, a good score but not quite good enough in the final reckoning to secure an overdue triumph.

Lahore Qalandars selected AB de Villiers as first pick in the Pakistan Super League draft and Steve Smith was snapped up by a yet-to-be-named franchise on Tuesday.

De Villiers was the prized selection as a 'Platinum' player for a tournament which gets under way in February.

Mohammad Hafeez, Carlos Brathwaite and Yasir Shah will be among the former South Africa captain's Qalandars team-mates.

Banned ex-Australia skipper Smith was recruited by a 'sixth team' - formerly Multan Sultans - to play alongside the likes of Mohammad Abbas, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik.

Defending champions Islamabad United brought in former England batsman Ian Bell and secured a return for his compatriot Samit Patel.

Kieron Pollard will play for Peshawar Zalmi, while fellow West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was picked by Quetta Gladiators.

 

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