AB de Villiers’ request to return to the international scene for the World Cup was ‘not even considered’ by captain Faf du Plessis, coach Ottis Gibson and convener of selectors Linda Zondi, according to a report.
De Villiers’ sensational offer was met with a door shut in his face by team management.
Cricket SA confirmed on Thursday that the 35-year-old had indeed offered his services in April to captain Du Plessis, Gibson and Zondi ahead of the World Cup, but the request ‘was not even considered’.
It is understood that the 35-year-old’s relationship with his close friend from Affies school days, captain Du Plessis, ‘had soured’ following the rejection.
At the 2019 IPL, De Villiers said on Indian TV: ‘I was keen to play in the World Cup, but I left, I retired. It was a very sensitive situation. For the last three years of my career, I was labelled as a guy who is picking and choosing when I was playing and when not. So I got quite a lot of criticism from back home, which also played a role in me retiring.
‘And it was difficult for me to then go, “Hey, but I’ll still play the World Cup”. It’s that picking and choosing thing again, and it’s quite arrogant to do something like that. But as they say, you can’t have your bread buttered on both sides.’
De Villiers played the last of his 228 ODIs for the Proteas against India at Centurion in February 2018 and cited ‘tiredness’ as his reason for retiring, with a batting average of 53.50, in a career that yielded 25 ODI hundreds.
Social media platforms had been bemoaning the absence of De Villiers from a Proteas World Cup squad that have slumped to three defeats in their opening three matches, with fans from all over the globe suggesting that Cricket SA should have bent over backwards to entice the 35-year-old to change his mind about retirement.
The latest developments explosively reveal that the player himself wanted to make a comeback, but had the door shut firmly in his face.
The emergence of Rassie van der Dussen as a top-order batsman was cited as a factor in not considering De Villiers’ request, along with the fact that the player had retired in May 2018.
However, he has continued to keep himself fit and was again a stand-out player for a misfiring Royal Challengers Bangalore at the recent IPL, scoring 442 runs at a strike rate of 154.00, including a highest score of 82 not out. It was at the IPL where he raised the subject about returning to help South Africa finally break their jinx of failures at the ICC World Cup.
In losing their first three matches at the World Cup – to England, Bangladesh and India – South Africa have left themselves a mountain to climb if they are to reach the semi-finals, realistically needing to win their last six matches against West Indies, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.
The news of De Villiers’ rejection is likely to to turn up the temperature in the Proteas camp even further, especially given that only three batsmen – Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Du Plessis have managed to score fifties, with De Kock’s 68 against England the highest score by a Proteas batsmen in 150 overs of cricket at the tournament.