CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - AB de Villiers has ruled himself out of South Africa's tour to England later this year, having already said he would not be available for the test series in New Zealand in March, as he focuses on limited overs cricket.
The former world number one test batsman will also sit out the two-test home series against Bangladesh starting in August, meaning he will have missed five series in a row for his country since suffering an elbow injury last June.
South Africa visit England for four tests in July and August without one of their premier batsmen, who has recovered from injury but is reluctant to overload his schedule having targeted a place at the 50-over World Cup in England and Wales in 2019.
The 32-year-old De Villiers will play in the Indian Premier League and South Africa’s Twenty20 competition, but will not be available for other domestic tournaments around the world.
"I'm just not ready yet. I'm aware of my elbow. The surgeon said it will be normal. I'm feeling really confident," he told reporters on Wednesday.
"There is a lot of cricket but the situation has changed for me, my priorities have changed. Playing three formats felt like the world is on my shoulder.”
De Villiers, who has played 106 tests averaging 50.46, said he hoped to restart his five-day career at the end of the year when India tour South Africa, followed by a home series against Australia.
He denied speculation on Tuesday that he was about to give up the longest form of the game altogether.
"I'm not retiring out of any format, that's for sure. I am not prepared to do that," he told South Africa’s Radio 702.
"My main aim is to get to that 2019 World Cup and I am going to do everything possible to get there.
"It's important to play the other formats but mentally and physically I need to be in a good space come the 2019 World Cup and that's what I am aiming for.”
De Villiers is slated to play in the third Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Cape Town on Jan. 25, and then captain the side in the five-match one-day international series that starts three days later.
Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Ken Ferris