South Africa are enduring a terrible time in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash. They lost their opening game to England by 104 runs and were humbled by both Bangladesh and India in their next two games. They are low on confidence and have not been helped by injuries to their key players, including their ace pacer Dale Steyn who has been ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury. Fans of South Africa cricket have been vocal about the team’s performance on social media, with some calling for the return of AB de Villiers, their star batsman and former captain back in the side. However, a report has emerged that is bound to send shockwaves in the South Africa team in the World Cup.
According to a report on ESPNCricinfo, AB de Villiers, who had retired in May 2018, had apparently made an effort to come out of international retirement and make himself available for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Before the selection of the South Africa squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup in April 2019, de Villiers had approached head coach Ottis Gibson, skipper Faf du Plessis and convenor of selectors Linda Zondi expressing his desire to come out of retirement. However, the report said de Villiers’ suggestion was ‘not even considered’.
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Zondi said that the selection of AB de Villiers would have been unfair on the players who have been performing since his retirement and added he did not fulfil the criteria of not playing enough domestic or international cricket during that period.
In a shock move in 2018, de Villiers announced on his Twitter page that he had announced his retirement. “After 114 Test matches, 228 ODI’s and 78 T20 Internationals, it is time for others to take over. I have had my turn, and to be honest, I am tired. This is a tough decision, I have thought long and hard about it and I’d like to retire while still playing decent cricket. After the fantastic series wins against India and Australia, now feels like the right time to step aside. It would not be right for me to pick and choose where, when and in what format I play for the Proteas. For me, in the green and gold, it must be everything or nothing. I will always be grateful to the coaches and staff of Cricket South Africa for their support through all these years. The most important thank you goes out to all of my teammates throughout my career, I wouldn’t be half the player that I am without the support throughout the years,” de Villiers said at that time.
De Villiers will continue playing freelance Twenty20 cricket and will join Middlesex in the Twenty20 Blast in England while for Royal Challengers Bangalore, he smashed 442 runs at 44.20 in the recent IPL and is also planning a stint in the Big Bash League.
Recently, de Villiers made some controversial statements by saying the IPL was better than the World Cup and he also opened up on how he was criticised for picking and choosing his matches. “I know I am sitting in India and busy playing in the IPL, so it's easy to say. But I have played in quite a few (tournaments) now across the world. I think it's better than the World Cup. 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 said.
South Africa is facing a dire situation in the World Cup. They may have to win all their remaining six matches in order to stay in contention for the semi-final but a loss in their next game against West Indies could spell the end of their campaign.