De Villiers further delays Test return

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AB de Villiers' return to Test cricket will be delayed until much later in 2017 after he confirmed he will not play for South Africa against England or Bangladesh.

The 32-year-old on Tuesday ruled himself out of the Test series with New Zealand in March to give him time to fully recover from his recent elbow injury.

De Villiers rejected reports he would retire from the longest format of the game, but his latest admission casts further doubt over his Test future.

He will not be part of the Test side that will travel to England for four matches in July or the side that hosts Bangladesh in September.

The Proteas face India later this year and then Australia in March 2018, both four-match series, and De Villiers hopes to be fit for them. However, beyond that he remains cagey over his future.

"I needed a bit of time away from the game and I need some more," De Villiers told reporters ahead of South Africa's Twenty20 series with Sri Lanka.

"Therefore I made myself unavailable for the New Zealand series, but to add to that is also the England series and the Bangladesh series after that. 

"I am hoping to make a comeback with the Titans towards the end of the year in preparation for the series against India and against Australia. That's the plan. I am not committing to it but I am hoping to make a comeback there in Test cricket.

"My dream plan is to come back for those eight Test matches and that's all I can say for now. My focus is on the 2019 World Cup but if I feel physically incapable of making it after those two Test series, I will call it a day then. 

"I'll make that call once we get there. I can't decide now how I am going to feel in 12 months."