CAPE TOWN - THE Proteas have committed to a fresh group of players for the tours of West Indies and Ireland after AB de Villiers decided “once and for all that his retirement will remain final”.
De Villiers retired from all forms of international cricket in May 2018, but continued freelancing in the various T20 leagues around the world. The 37-year-old was, however, set to make an international comeback with the ICC T20 World Cup looming, particularly after admitting during the recent Indian Premier League that he had been in talks with Proteas coach Mark Boucher about a possible return to the South African national team.
"Last year, he (Boucher) asked me if I would be interested. And I said, 'absolutely'. And come the end of the IPL, we will have a look at where we are at with regards to my form and my fitness," De Villiers had said.
The veteran had always placed an emphasis on the fact that he needed to be in the best possible shape and still be scoring runs consistently to plot a possible comeback, and it certainly seemed that everything was on track during the IPL when he played a couple of spectacular innings to pass 5 000 runs in the tournament.
"I've really done some work at home and we have treadmills in the room. I've done all the work and now it's all about being as fresh as I can when I go out to bat," De Villiers said.
However, Cricket SA released a statement yesterday ruling out one final international hurrah for De Villiers.
“Discussions with AB de Villiers have concluded with the batsman deciding once and for all, that his retirement will remain final,” the statement read.
It certainly is a major blow to Boucher's plans for the T20 World Cup, especially as the Proteas have lost five successive T20I series under the former wicket-keeper's guidance.
Furthermore, despite Director of Cricket Graeme Smith recently leaving the Proteas door ajar for fellow T20 freelancers such as former national captain Faf du Plessis, leg-spinner Imran Tahir and all-rounder Chris Morris, none have been included in the T20I squads for the Caribbean and Ireland.
Instead, the IPL contingent consisting of Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi that missed the Pakistan 3-1 series defeat will all return to the squad along with captain Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen (both injured) and Reeza Hendricks (paternal leave).
There are, though, a host of fresh faces in Dean Elgar's Test squad which consists of six uncapped players in KwaZulu-Natal Coastal off-spinner Prenelan Subrayen, Northerns seamer Lizaad Williams, Western Province wicket-keeper/ batsman Kyle Verreynne, Eastern Province all-rounder Marco Jansen, KZN batsmen Sarel Erwee and Keegan Petersen.
AB de Villiers finalises international retirement.— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) May 18, 2021
Discussions with AB de Villiers have concluded with the batsman deciding once and for all, that his retirement will remain final. pic.twitter.com/D3UDmaDAS2
“This is a massive outing for the Proteas. We have a fully fit team with an exciting balance of youth and experience,” said convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang. “The Caribbean is well-known for its low and slow wickets and we have ensured that we have chosen the personnel needed for every eventuality on this very important excursion.”
The Proteas will play two Test matches and five T20Is against the West Indies, and three ODI's and three T20I's against Ireland.
Proteas Test Squad to the West Indies
Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vicecaptain), Quinton de Kock, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lizaad Williams, Prenelan Subrayen, Marco Jansen.
Proteas T20 Squad to the West Indies
Temba Bavuma (captain) Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Sisanda Magala, Janneman Malan (Boland), Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje , Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.
Proteas squad to Ireland
Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan (Boland), Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.