• CSA shocked by AB’s request

    Cricket South Africa national selection panel convenor Linda Zondi insists he pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire, and was shocked by his retirement u-turn.

    Zondi was forced to address the public regarding De Villiers and his decision to come out of retirement for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

    ‘I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018,’ said Zondi in a statement released on Thursday.

    ‘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.’

    De Villiers turned down this offer, with Zondi stating ‘he was at peace with his decision to retire’.

    Another twist to this tale was Zondi intimating that the captain and coach never relayed De Villiers’ desire until 18 April – the day the squad was announced.

    ‘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 was a shock to all of us,’ added Zondi.

    ‘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.’

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