AB de Villiers to lead Proteas into battle at the bull ring

AB de Villiers will take over from Hashim Amla who said he would like to concentrate on his game.

Proteas's new Test match captain, AB de Villiers. Picture: CSA Facebook page.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa has a new test captain.

AB de Villiers will take over from Hashim Amla who said he would like to concentrate on his game.

Yesterday, Amla made the shock announcement during a post-match press conference indicating that he would be vacating the position with immediate effect.

He took over from Graeme Smith in 2014.

He captained the Proteas 14 times. Losing four, drawing six and winning four.

Amla has been under pressure of late following a deep in his performance, coupled with his team's failure to win test matches since January last year.

He did, however, score an impressive double century against England this week but the decision came as a shock to most.

De Villiers, who turns 32 next month, will lead South Africa into the last two tests against England, starting next week in Johannesburg, and is favourite to get the job long-term, coach Russell Domingo said.

That, however, will only rekindle the debate over the workload on one of the world's most talented batsmen, who plays an important role for his country in all formats of the game.

De Villiers was last week forced to deny newspaper reports he was ready to quit the test arena to better balance time with his young family and cricketing commitments, which also include playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

He played as wicketkeeper in the first test against England in Durban, which South Africa lost by 241 runs, in order to allow the selectors to pick an extra batsmen but after a poor performance he quickly gave back the gloves.

Cricket South Africa said it would look at ways to give him time off but have now thrust a new responsibility on to his shoulders.

"At the moment my priority and focus is placed on leading this team to what can be a memorable series win against England," De Villiers said.

"This test squad is motivated and determined to turn our performances around and I'm looking forward to taking up that challenge as captain. Hashim is a good friend and close colleague and I am grateful for his support."

Amla sprung a surprise with his decision, which came just one day after he scored 201 to help drag his team back from the cusp of losing a second successive test to England.

He said he felt there were better candidates to lead the team and wanted to concentrate on his batting.

Additional information by Reuters