AB de Villiers during a 2017 CSA Departure press conference at OR Tambo International Airport. Photo: Aubrey KgakatsiBackpagePix

You know our cricket is in a tricky place when the fiercest shots are being fired on social media rather than out in the middle.

Many Twitter observers pulled out the popcorn and screen-grab when former national players Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Paul Harris and current Kolpak player Simon Harmer engaged in rather heated shenanigans.

It’s a slippery slope, is social media, often with small statements making a big noise. It is even worse when the combatants are not willing to let it go quietly.

Even domestic players waded into the mud to sling some of the sticky stuff as matters that used to be discussed behind closed dressing-room doors were laid out on the front street.

No doubt, these very debates have been had across the country as fans, coaches and players wondered just how it came to be that one man made up his own cricket calendar – and more than that, the powers that be allowed it.

The source of all this smoke, of course, is the questions that still hover around AB de Villiers and his future in international cricket.

While the Proteas were in the UK getting turned over by an emerging but still unpolished England side, De Villiers was back home.

He became a father again, as well as being a keen commentator via social media about the state of the SA team. 

Clearly, he still cares about the team to some degree – not quite enough to rouse himself for one of the few remaining icon series on the international calendar, mind.

But he still follows the fortunes of the team he called his for over a decade – the team he has maintained he still wants to lead to international glory in 2019.

Messrs Gibbs and Prince, like many others connected to the SA team, have questioned the level of privilege that De Villiers has enjoyed this past year as he picked and chose his way through the schedule as if it were a Woolies online menu.

Not for the first time this year, the word “disrespect” has hovered around the Proteas. One of the shots fired on Friday’s celebrity social media session questioned why De Villiers acted in a manner that even greats like Jacques Kallis didn’t.

Naturally, being a South African argument, the conversation eventually veered towards politics, quotas and Kolpaks – cue Harmer – and the consequences of the cricket world getting smaller and pay cheques getting bigger through the shorter formats.

The departure of Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw and a few others via the Kolpak cat-flap sent shock-waves through SA cricket, but the sabbatical of De Villiers has evidently left a bitter taste in many mouths.

At the end of his limited (overs) commitments on the UK trip, De Villiers vowed to sit down and make a firm decision with Cricket SA this month, once the national coaching position was finalised.

Of course, CSA have been exclusively sitting with all things T20 Global League of late and appear to have taken their eyes off the other hot potatoes they are required to juggle.

The future of the current one-day captain is among those because surely the new coach deserves to be given a clean slate and a list of players who are fully committed.

Until the De Villiers decision is made, speculation will continue to rumble. 

Disgruntled sorts will continue to mumble on Twitter and more, and the world will watch on and wonder if the player power that eroded football so long ago has now moved on to cricket.

The examples are already mushrooming. There was the case of the West Indies, we have observed Australia’s men and women stand firm recently, and, of course, we have the curious case of AB de Villiers.

And so we wait and debate such weighty matters over 140-character “Twars” on Friday-night fights.

Sunday Tribune

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter