Dear AB de Villiers,
South Africa are enduring a horrible 2019 World Cup. Three straight defeats and nobody knows when the streak will actually come to a halt.
There have been injuries to fast bowlers and dropped catches, but it is the batting that has suffered the most. Everyone has been lamenting your absence.
“Where is AB?” “Why is he not in the UK?” “Why does he only want to play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore?”
Even I wondered about why turning out for Middlesex in the T20 Blast was a greater attraction than the grandest stage of all. In my mind, that’s where legends - and there’s no doubt that you are - yearn to show off their talents. Not in just another T20 league.
Only pressure can do that. It has a way of creeping up on you in the middle of the night. It’s why Kenny Dalglish left Liverpool in his first stint as their manager at the height of his powers in 1991. Exhausted. Drained. Shattered.
A return to the World Cup would only bring all those painful memories to the surface again. St Lucia 2007. Dhaka 2011. Eden Park 2015.
It’s that last one that still hurts isn’t it? The scars remain raw. I was there when you wept openly at the post-match press conference.
It’s why I had a genuine sense of remorse when inches of columns were written about why Cricket South Africa did not do more to get their “golden child” back for the World Cup. I felt your decision needed to be respected.
But now it’s been revealed that you actually wanted to come back. There was indeed a late request conveyed to CSA on the eve of the World Cup squad announcement for your inclusion.
That’s where this bus has to stop dead in its tracks. Why would you do something like that? Did you actually think that you could waltz back into a national team on the eve of a global tournament, like the messiah of the Proteas, just because you are AB de Villiers?
CSA bent backwards to accommodate you. From the initial sabbatical to retiring from Test cricket to focus, essentially, on coming to this World Cup.
This decision was then reversed when you wanted to play against India only because your new sponsor MRF, the one that pays you millions of dollars, required television exposure for its Indian market.
What came next?
Retirement from all international cricket via social media - on a field at Tukkies of all places. Donald Trump has some strange people advising him, but yours belong in the same WhatsApp group. And yet the nation still did not give up hope. Maybe your arm could be twisted.
All sorts of concessions would have been made. Just play one or two series building up to the World Cup. But again you turned your back and chose the T20 dollars of Bangladesh and Pakistan instead.
Maybe you have forgotten about your answers to a possible u-turn. Let me remind you:
“There is no comeback. I’m very happy with where I’m in my life. I don’t want to confuse anybody, especially now the (Proteas) team, it will be very selfish and arrogant of me to throw statements around that I’m keen to play a World Cup.”
“Arrogant” was the expression used. At the moment, your actions speak louder than a thousand words.
Did you honestly expect someone like Rassie van der Dussen, a man who has toiled for a decade on the domestic circuit, worked his absolute socks off with the limited abilities he has been blessed with, and played himself into a position where he was on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong dream to be dropped just because you changed your mind?
How could Faf du Plessis look any of the Proteas straight in the eye again if he allowed you back into the sanctity of the dressing-room? We know you haven’t left the team in spirit, but this was pushing it too far.
The 2019 World Cup campaign may be doomed for the Proteas. But maybe, just maybe, this ill-timed revelation of yours might be the bonding factor that brings them all together to ignite their World Cup. And then you can take credit for that too!
* Follow all the #CricketWorldCup action here.