Former South African cricketer AB de Villiers (Photo: Twitter/@ABdeVilliers17)
AB de Villiers, arguably the best cricketer of South Africa, wanted to come out of retirement for the ICC Cricket World Cup, but his last-minute come-back offer was denied by the team management. The star cricketer, who retired from International cricket in May last year, had approached South African skipper Faf du Plesis, head coach Ottis Gibson and convenor of selectors Linda Zondi 24 hours before the announcement of squad for the World Cup. However, the offer was rejected by the trio on moral grounds.
"The decision was based on principle; we had to be fair to the team, the selection panel, our franchise system and players," Zondi said. Zondi further added that he had requested AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018 and gave him the option to choose his own matches but he turned down the offer then.
"I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018... 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…. He turned down the offer and said he was at peace with his decision to retire," he said.
The convenor of selectors of the Cricket South Africa said he didn’t have any option to consider AB de Villiers’ offer as the squad had been finalised and confirmed and selecting him in the team would have been injustice to the other players who performed well in his absence.
“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," he said.
In the absence of AB de Villiers, the South African team had a disastrous start to the tournament and lost first three of their matches, including the one against underdog Bangladesh. Already in shambles, the team suffered another blow after their pace attack spearhead Dale Steyn ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.