There’s no commitment in sport anymore, so after 106 Tests and 12 years, AB de Villiers is allowed to pick and choose.
Many people tore AB de Villiers to shreds in the safest of possible modern places to ‘troll’ – social media – for his decision to pick and choose when he wants to play for South Africa.
I’ve got no problem with De Villiers declaring that he is unavailable to play Test cricket for the Proteas until the end of the year, when South Africa comes up against India and Australia.
Instead, he will pocket the more than R20-million that he gets annually to play in the Indian Premier League, while he also rakes in the cash from the third-most lucrative bat deal in the world, behind Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni.
De Villiers’ ties with India are strong and he in fact calls it his ‘second home’. India has made him rich beyond his dreams and left him in the position where he is now, to call the shots as to where and when he wants to play.
We know that he has unfinished business and that the 2019 World Cup (50 overs) is his Holy Grail. We also know that he wants to honour his IPL commitments while representing his country in the short versions of the game for most of 2017.
Much has been said and done, but fairly soon the Proteas’ contracts are up for renewal and discussion and De Villiers has placed himself in a position to hold Cricket South Africa to ransom. Contract me and pay me what I’m looking for, or I become a free agent, like a Chris Gayle or a Kevin Pietersen. A gun for hire, other words, and at the age of 32 and now a father, why not?
De Villiers is box office appeal and while many may question his commitment, he is a professional. And these days there’s no room for sentiment when it comes to professional sportsmen and women. It’s not something unique to De Villiers.
If you want loyalty, then buy a dog. It’s the January football transfer window and players have their agents networking to find the best possible deal out there. The same applies to managers.
Why are players of the likes of Carlos Tevez, Ramires, Oscar and John Obi Mikel playing football in China? Because of the money – silly numbers – that they simply can’t turn down.
Why will one player swear allegiance to Chelsea and a month later pull on a Manchester United shirt? It’s not the club they love, it’s the money.
What is keeping Floyd Mayweather and UFC poster boy Conor McGregor from fighting one another? Money, not enough of it, pure as simple. Mayweather has been offered $25-million but he doesn’t get out of bed for anything less than $100-million plus a large chunk of the TV revenue.
Remember the tainted Allen Stanford? He turned the England cricket team into a bunch of mercenaries and made West Indies cricketers overnight millionaires, quite literally, when offering them a winner-takes-all T20 game. One of the England players’ wives was even pictured bouncing on the odious Stanford’s knee at the match. All because of money.
It’s the way of the modern world. Donald Trump is the president of the United States because he had the cash to fund his own campaign and he is now appointing his billionaire buddies into key political positions.
Money talks, pure and simple.
Our sports minister unashamedly calls himself ‘Mr Razzmatazz’ and ‘Father Christmas’ as he dishes out money to those who take his fancy at a particular time, and he doesn’t blink in spending many millions on one sports banquet a year.
South African rugby players are flocking to Europe not because they fear transformation is scuppering their chances of playing for the Springboks, but because the weak rand makes it a financially viable proposition.
Everyone is at it, and while AB de Villiers might not come out and admit it, he has got to the point in his life and career where it’s a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’.
De Villiers has been brilliant in his commitment to South Africa up to this point and he has given every patriotic Proteas supporter so much to celebrate and be proud of. He’s changed the way batsmen think and his heroics have launched thousands of young wannabe ABs.
Now that he says he wants to take a break for Test series against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh, he’s being slammed for lack of commitment.
All he is doing is being a modern professional. I don’t blame him one bit.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/Backpage Pix