New Delhi: Three losses in their first three games in the 2019 edition of the World Cup has opened a can of worms in the South African unit. It has been revealed that former South Africa skipper AB de Villiers had offered to come out of retirement to play in the showpiece event, a move that was rejected by the Cricket South Africa selectors.
While the news has seen widespread reaction from cricket fans across the world, de Villiers has asked all to show solidarity and support the team as it plays the World Cup. Taking to Twitter, ABD wrote: “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.”
CSA selection panel convenor Linda Zondi has clarified in an official statement as to why the offer was rejected by the board. Zondi said that ABD wasn’t keen on playing the home series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be considered for selection in the team for the showpiece event and instead wanted to play in T20 leagues before making the u-turn on the eve of CSA announcing the 15-member squad.
“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. 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,” Zondi said in a CSA release.
Skipper Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson had informed the selectors of de Villiers’ offer but Zondi said that came as a shock to the selection panel and they didn’t wish to set a bad example.
“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,” Zondi pointed.