The relatively poor form of AB de Villiers in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) should be a concern for the Proteas.
With a month to go before the ICC Champions Trophy in England, South Africa’s one-day skipper isn’t exactly building a head of steam.
To date, De Villiers has only scored 196 runs in 7 matches at a strike rate of 131 for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It pales in comparison to 2015’s 513 runs at a massive strike rate of 175 and 2016’s 687 runs at 168.
But former Australian spinner Brad Hogg, a pundit at this year’s tournament, has an interesting theory.
In fact, it’s one that should give Proteas a bit of comfort.
“I think his big priority is 2019’s World Cup,” Hogg told ESPNCricinfo’s Match Day T20.
“South Africa haven’t won that tournament yet and he wants to be a big part of that.”
De Villiers has previously mentioned his burning ambition to do so but it also means he wants to manage himself.
That process hasn’t gone quite that smoothly.
“AB’s got a lot of off-field issues he needs to deal with at the moment,” said Hogg.
“He doesn’t look sure where he wants his career to go presently. He’s choosing what tournaments he wants to play and that can create uncertainty.”
The Proteas’ batting dynamo has also struggled with a back niggle, which has sidelined him twice in the current campaign.
How will that affect his sharpness in England?
“(Australian) Nathan Coulter-Nile bowled him a bouncer the other day, which he handled poorly and just skied it up in the air. And then he went straight past an Imran Tahir delivery,” noted Hogg.
“He just doesn’t seem like the sharp AB de Villiers we’ve come to know.”