News, conveniently but so inappropriately, was leaked that De Villiers had made himself available for the Cricket World Cup on the eve of the squad announcement. He did so in a telephone call with captain (and friend) Faf du Plessis. The latter, to his credit, said he doubted it was an option as the squad had been selected but that he would relay the message to the coach, manager and selection chief. They weren’t interested. Again, rightly so.
De Villiers’s pedigree as a player is not ever to be questioned. He is one of the great batsmen of his generation in all forms of cricket and one of the finest to play white-ball cricket. He could play. He can still play, despite being 35 years old. His recent Indian Premier League returns are confirmation he would still have been an asset to the Proteas at the World Cup, had he been part of the squad in the year build-up.
De Villiers retired from international cricket in 2018. It was an announcement, made by De Villiers on social media, that stunned cricket authorities and especially the Proteas convener of selectors, Linda Zondi. He confirmed that he had pleaded with De Villiers not to retire. He had reiterated the value of De Villiers being at the World Cup.
The player had no more hunger to represent his country. He had “run out of gas” his words.