sport

De Villiers mulls captaincy

AB de Villiers will open talks next week over the possibility of taking over from Graeme Smith as captain of South Africa.

Smith unexpectedly announced his retirement from international cricket following the third day of the decisive third Test against Australia in Cape Town.

De Villiers is regarded as the obvious replacement having served as vice-captain to Smith, but speculation has emerged that the wicketkeeper-batsman is not keen to over-burden himself.

De Villiers, who also captains the Proteas' one-day international team, is the world's top-ranked batsman despite also being the first-choice wicketkeeper.

He will hold talks with coach Russell Domingo after the conclusion of the series against Australia on Wednesday, but he remains unsure is he will take the role if offered it.

"I'm not sure. We'll have to wait and see what happens," De Villiers told Cricket Australia's TV channel.

"I'll have a few discussions with the coach and team selectors. If it does come my way it'd be a huge honour."

Faf du Plessis is another potential replacement, with the right-hander set to skipper the Proteas in the forthcoming ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

Surprised

De Villiers also admitted he did not expect Smith to stand down for another couple of years.

"I thought he had another year or two in him," he added. "Each guy's situation is different. Maybe it's a good time for him to move on. He's obviously got his personal reasons.

"I'd rather look back to a superb career and just say congrats over what he has achieved over many years.

"What he has achieved as captain and what he has achieved away from the game and on the field is just amazing and something to look up to."

Domingo was also surprised by the timing of the decision by Smith, who first took over as Proteas captain as a 22-year-old over a decade ago.

"I had an inkling that it might be around the corner with what has been happening in his life and it is a lot of pressure doing it for 12 years," he said.

"I'm not entirely surprised but I am a bit surprised by the timing of it.

"He's a guy that has always played under a lot of pressure. He's absorbed a lot of pressure and a lot of criticism.

"He's always found the inner strength to ensure he concentrates on his performances and leads the team irrespective of what perceptions of him are.

"His presence alone is going to be sorely missed."