AB de Villiers has signed up with Middlesex County Cricket Club for the 2019 T20 Blast and will be available for the county at least for the first seven rounds of the competition. reported ICC.
The tournament is scheduled to begin on 18 July with Middlesex taking on Essex at Lord’s and may feature de Villiers in the opening clash, as the 35-year-old busies himself in a season of T20 cricket which also includes the Indian Premier League.
The South African heavyweight retired from international cricket in May 2018 and since then has been plying his trade in T20 leagues around the world, including the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the Mzansi Super League and the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Middlesex head coach Stuart Law called de Villiers’ arrival to the club as “exciting”. “It’s exciting for all here at Middlesex to announce the arrival of AB de Villiers for the T20 Blast this season,” Law said.
“It’s a great opportunity for some of our younger players to pick the brain of one of the best players to have graced the game of cricket and for the support staff to work with him as well.
“I look forward to working with AB this season and can’t wait to watch one of my favourite modern day batsman up close and personal.”
De Villiers is excited, too, and said he couldn’t have hoped for “a better club to join”. “It’s exciting that the opportunity to play county cricket has finally come along,” he told Standard Sport.
“The international schedule was always just too hectic for it to happen sooner. Playing your cricket at Lord’s is a special bonus. I never made it onto that honours board, but I have great memories of playing there.”
Overall, the right-handed batsman has played 272 T20 matches, has scored over 7000 runs at a strike rate of 148.85. He has been in good form as well, returning a 40-ball 45* and a 29-ball 52* in his last two outings for Lahore Qalandars in the PSL. In January this year, he hit a 50-ball hundred in the BPL.
During this knock of 45* on his latest outing, de Villiers seemed to have added a new stroke to his arsenal when he played a switch-scoop-sweep over third man for six, leading fans to question as to how many more strokes could ‘Mr. 360’ add to his repertoire.
“I don’t know if there are too many shots left to explore,” de Villiers said when posed this question. “I feel as good as ever and hope to play for two to three years yet, so who knows?”
The Blast concludes with the Finals Day on 21 September and Middlesex, who have also signed Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, will look to advance through the South Group and better their ninth-place finish last season.