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AB DE VILLIERS | ECB REPORTERS NETWORK INTERVIEW

about 1 month ago | Interviews

AB de Villiers believes the Vitality Blast can appeal to a global audience after making his English domestic debut for Middlesex in the tournament this summer.

The former South Africa Test legend revealed playing for Middlesex in the Twenty20 tournament was a huge tick-off on his sporting bucket list.

De Villiers marked his debut with a match-winning unbeaten 88, from 43 balls, in front of a sell-out Lord’s crowd and his first impressions suggest the product is good enough to marketed to cricket lovers worldwide.

“It (Vitality Blast) is not broadcast around the world yet which makes it different to the IPL and other franchises I’ve played in,” he said.

“The quality and standard of cricket is right up there and the crowds are amazing and that’s what it is all about, for us as cricketers to have fun and for the people to support it.

“It is my first time in the English county scene and it’s certainly the team I’ve wanted to be with my whole career.

“If I was ever going to come and play county cricket it was going to be for Middlesex. It is pretty special to play for them and to have Lord’s as my home ground.”

The 35-year-old right-hander, who is available for the first seven group games and the knockout stages if Middlesex progress that far, has already hinted he could be back for another stint next year.

And he would not be averse to having a crack at the ECB’s new tournament, The Hundred, which is set to launch in July next summer.

The Hundred will feature eight city-based teams in a new 100-ball format to be televised by both Sky Sports and the BBC, and De Villiers believes governing bodies should never be afraid to innovate.

“Maybe I’ll do both next year, who knows,” he added.

“If I am still fit, hitting them well and I’m competing with the best in the world why not?

“I haven’t seen the rules and regulations for The Hundred, but whatever is good for the game of cricket I am going to support.

“Innovation is fantastic. If you never try you never know so we’ll see what happens. If it’s okay, great; if it fails you move on, but I’m very excited to see how it works and maybe something will come of it.

“Whatever promotes the game of cricket and brings more people to the game I’m a fan of.”

After emerging as the hero of the Seaxes’ opening win over Essex last week, De Villiers was a peripheral figure in their 37-run London derby success over Surrey at The Kia Oval on Tuesday, when he was given out lbw for just three, despite replays showing the ball hit bat or glove en route to the pads.

It mattered little as skipper Dawid Malan’s career-best in the format of 117 helped send Middlesex top of the fledgling South Group table.

Despite the batsmen grabbing the early headlines, De Villiers feels it will be Middlesex’s bowling unit which ultimately will decide how deep they go in the tournament.

“I always look at a bowling line-up when it comes to T20 cricket or in any format for that matter,” he continued.

“I feel our bowlers ask great questions and they are all experienced players who know their games.

“And then obviously we’ve got Mujeeb and a couple of other good spinners as well to chip in from the sides.

“I think it is a fantastic bowling line-up that is going to keep us in the campaign and then the batters must come to the party and score some match-winning knocks from time to time.”

Middlesex are back in Vitality Blast action this afternoon against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham, before travelling further west to face Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens on Friday evening.

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