De Villiers fit for England showdown

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith on Saturday declared in-form batsman AB De Villiers fit for Sunday’s World Cup Group B match against England.

The 27-year-old De Villiers has been in sensational form, hitting back-to-back centuries against West Indies and The Netherlands, but the additional wicketkeeping workload has been taking a toll on his body.

After his unbeaten match-winning century against West Indies in Delhi, De Villiers headed straight to the physio’s table, skipping the post-match press conference to get his back treated.

He made a rich contribution to Thursday’s 231-run victory with his second successive century but the back problem flared up again, forcing him to hand over the wicketkeeping gloves to Morne van Wyk.

“AB has come through, his back is well and he will be fit for tomorrow’s match,” Smith told reporters at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

De Villiers will have to play a key role if South Africa are to put behind their three World Cup semifinal heartbreaks and gift Smith, who will quit as South Africa’s ODI captain after the tournament, a perfect farewell gift.

Smith said emotion was not running high in the dressing room.

“It’s not affecting us at all, things have been very normal in this squad, probably providing us a little more motivation for the guys, if anything,” he said.

“It was my personal decision, a decision I’m at peace with. I have been in the job for over eight years now which I think is a lot longer than most of the captains tend to last these days,” said Smith, whose serious tone was broken when a reporter’s cellphone started ringing with a tone resembling a bleating goat.

“From my perspective, I’m very proud of what I have done and I want to give myself the best chance to finish off with a World Cup,” Smith said.

“I’m enjoying the experience, just want to have the opportunity rolled out at the end of the tournament and get on that aeroplane, proud of what I have been able to do. I’m at peace with the decision.” – Reuters

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