De Villiers: I haven't retired from Test cricket

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"They've done really well to come back from the 2015 World Cup", he added, referring to a chastening exit from Pool A in Australia two years ago.

But de Villiers, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, has opted out of the Test series in a bid to reduce his workload after being a mainstay for the Proteas in all three global formats - Test, ODIs and Twenty20s. "I'll look indecisive", cricket.com.au quoted de Villiers as saying.

When asked if he will change his mind prior to the Test series against England, De Villiers said: "I haven't retired, no".

AB de Villiers believes South Africa are about to face a Ben Stokes who has taken his game to "the next level".

The 33-year old batsman, whose focus now exclusively lies on winning the 2019 World Cup for South Africa, however insisted that it doesn't mean the end of the road as far as his Test career is concerned.

England are slender favourites to win the series, at 8/11 compared to South Africa's 11/10, but when it comes to the individual matchwinners, the odds are tilted slightly in the visitors' favour, with each of their anticipated top three - AB de Villiers, Quentin de Kock and Hashim Amla -among the four market-leaders to be named as Man of the Match in Wednesday's first match at Headingley.

The non-stop nature of worldwide cricket means something has to give and De Villiers is not prepared to relinquish his career as one of the best paid players in the IPL, earning £1.5 million this year with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The way they came back from that earned a lot of respect around the world.

"It was a poor IPL for us, but that's long gone now".

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"I think it is a good move not to have family during the tournament".

"Stokes is a fantastic cricketer, with both bat and ball", said de Villiers at Hove on Thursday ahead of South Africa s tour opener against Sussex on Friday.

'Physically I realised I'm the best I can be when I'm fresh and looking forward to cricket instead of the other way round and being exhausted when I'm playing.

Last August, de Villiers took time off to get a number of injuries treated and then suffered an elbow injury that ruled him out of the Test series against Australia.

"A lot of guys lose their way in the IPL, and others find the next level in their game".

Looking at the group, De Villiers said there were no easy games because of the quality of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. "Ben Stokes definitely lifted his game and I think it would have done him the world of good", de Villiers opined.

"I missed a couple of matches at the IPL and I am not planning to miss any games for South Africa".

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