AB de Villiers: Ben Stokes lifted his game in IPL 2017

Lynette Rowe
May 19, 2017

He said the wives and partners of the players would be with them on tour for the first two weeks during the three-match series against England before the Champions Trophy and would return home to allow them to focus on the tournament.

All-rounder Stokes, 25, scored his maiden Twenty20 century for Rising Pune Supergiant in the Indian Premier League, also taking 12 wickets, but will not play in the final after being recalled by England.

"He's definitely got something special about him".

"I started the IPL very well and felt in good touch throughout the tournament, but we never got going as a team as a whole", he said.

"A lot of guys lose their way in the IPL, and others find the next level in their game". Spending time with the family has done me the world of good and it is about finding the balance of working hard to win with time away from the game'. "Ben Stokes definitely lifted his game and I think it would have done him the world of good". "I faced Imran Tahir in the nets and he's certainly stepped his game up a bit, and come up with a few new deliveries, and so has everyone else who was there".

Beating hosts England in a pre-tournament warm-up series would be ideal preparation for South Africa's assault on the ICC Champions Trophy, according to AB de Villiers.

"I remember thinking in 2015 they had hit rock bottom, so they did really well to come back from that", added De Villiers.

The South Africans are in Group B with Sri Lanka, whom they meet in their first match at Kennington Oval in London on June 3 and other Asian powerhouses Pakistan and India. They're obviously a very talented bunch, and they've earned a lot of respect.

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They are the bookies favourites to win the Champions Trophy and play in a style of De Villiers at his best.

"We'll look forward to testing our skills against them".

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.

But the 33-year-old says while focusing purely on the shorter forms of the game was the right decision "for this year", he is adamant he has not retired from Test cricket.

"It s the decision for this year", he said. "It is the most important thing for me to make sure that I am feeling physically and mentally healthy and strong and ready to go every time I play...."

"I haven t retired, no".

"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".

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