There seems to be a lot of rising anger over AB de Villiers’ decision to hang back on Tests.
So what’s wrong with that?
His wife is about to give birth to their second child and it is plain as daylight he is not driven to play Tests any more. If he were, you would have to chain him to Die Afrikaanse Taalmonument and cement his feet to the rock to stop him.
What is needed is a bit of clarity all round. As CSA’s top man Haroon Lorgat said, it is up to AB to decide when he wants to come back to Tests, but when he does, he will be at the call of the selectors and will play whatever Tests they decide.
It must be made clear he will not be able to opt out of ‘tedious’ Tests in the UAE, or Sri Lanka, and choose to play only the more ‘glamorous’ ones, against Australia and England, perhaps. The selectors cannot be held to ransom.
He has every right to say he wants out, and then to reappraise his situation at the end of the year, play a few four-day games for the Titans and earn his place. That will give also him an indication whether he actually wants to play in these tiring first-class affairs.
But it must also be made clear that there is no automatic right of return. The selectors must do what they do: Assess the form of the player and work out if he is better than the man they have in the side, how committed he is and how his inclusion will affect the dynamics of the team.
It must be made clear that if the Proteas are on a successful run, they are settled and that changes do not need to be made, he won’t get a place in the side. It’s very simple. That’s the way it works.
Some commentators are saying that his ‘maybe-maybe-not’ attitude is unsettling the team as they don’t know when he will pop up.
But teams have never, and should never be secure havens. Every player must know that if another, better player arrives at the nets, their place is in danger.
I bet if Jacques Kallis suddenly decided he want to return to the fray, he would be welcomed with open arms. But he would have to prove himself beforehand. The same applies to AB.
And I hope I don’t hear anyone questioning his ‘loyalty’. After 106 Tests over 12 years, he does not need to prove his loyalty to anyone. And if he wants to play domestic T20s and rake in a lot of money, he has earned that right.