The fall-out from the AB de Villiers saga is still on the go on social media, but the man at the centre of attention tried to keep things “clean” on his side.
The former Proteas captain had “left a big vacuum” when he quit international cricket in May 2018, said selection chief Linda Zondi on Thursday, but his request to be considered for the World Cup a day before the final squad was announced was not considered on a matter of principle.
De Villiers, who opted to play in T20 leagues in Pakistan and Bangladesh instead of being available for ODI series against the Pakistanis and Sri Lanka, tweeted on Thursday that he was still supporting the team.
“All that’s important is that we should all focus on supporting the team at the World Cup. There is a long way to go and I believe the boys can still go all the way #ProteaFire,” De Villiers stated.
The South Africans are under enormous pressure after losing all three of their World Cup matches – against England, Bangladesh and India.
This has led to De Villiers’ fans lamenting his absence from the tournament.
Then on Thursday, the Cricinfo website reported that the 35-year-old had approached captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson the day before the SA squad was to be announced, where he offered to come out of retirement for the World Cup.
All that’s important is that we should all focus on supporting the team at the World Cup. There is a long way to go and I believe the boys can still go all the way #ProteaFire
Zondi said that he was informed by Du Plessis and Gibson of De Villiers’ request on the day the 15-man group was named – 18 April.
“I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018. Although there was a perception that he was picking and choosing when to play – which was not true – I did give him the option to plan and monitor his season to get him to the World Cup fresh and in a good space,” Zondi said in a statement on Thursday.
“We made it clear that he would have to play during the home tours against Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be considered for selection. Instead, he signed to play in the Pakistan and Bangladesh Premier Leagues respectively. He turned down the offer, and said he was at peace with his decision to retire.
“For Faf du Plessis and Ottis Gibson to share AB’s desire to be included in the squad on the day we announced our World Cup squad on April 18th was a shock to all of us.
“AB left a big vacuum when he retired. We had a year to find players at franchise level to fill the gap. We had players who put in the hard work, who put up their hands and deserved to be given the opportunity to go to the World Cup.
“The decision was based on principle; we had to be fair to the team, the selection panel, our franchise system and players.
“At no point in the year that he had retired did he make himself available for selection. It was no option when I received the news on the day of the squad announcement – our squad was finalised and confirmed.
“AB is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, but above all else, we have to stay true to our morals and principles. There is no regret in the decision.”