During South Africa’s World Cup 2019 campaign a massive controversy had erupted courtesy some shocking claims by their selectors. Linda Zondi, chairman of the South Africa selection panel, had revealed mid-way during the tournament that AB De Villiers, who had retired from international cricket in 2018, had expressed his “desire” to be included in the World Cup squad weeks before the marquee tournament. Zondi said that they didn’t want the team’s balance and composure to be affected and hence he declined the offer by De Villiers.
The matter was much debated everywhere as having the presence of such a star performer in the team could have made a huge difference to South Africa’s fortunes. But, eventually, everyone agreed that since the team was already selected it shouldn’t have been tinkered with.
However, now that South Africa’s campaign in World Cup 2019 has come to a close, the AB De Villiers retirement saga has been opened once again. Through an Instagram post, De Villiers posted an update on the 12th of July that he had not, in fact, demanded to be included in World Cup squad.
“On the day of my [retirement] announcement, I was privately asked whether ‘the door was still open’ for me to play in the World Cup,” de Villiers said in a statement in his Instagram profile. “I was asked. I did not offer. I quickly replied ‘Yes’. With hindsight, maybe I should have just said no, but my natural instinct has always been to find a way to oblige whenever possible.”
De Villiers also stated that he hadn’t said anything earlier as the team was involved in the World Cup and didn’t want to do anything that would distract the players from their goal. But now that the tournament is over he really wanted to clear the air as his name was being unnecessary maligned.
In fact, De Villiers has also stated that during the days after his retirement there was no formal contact between Cricket South Africa and him.
This statement is undoubtedly huge and puts an interesting twist in what the South African chief selector had stated earlier. If there is even an iota of truth in De Villiers’ revelations, then questions must be asked about the intentions of the claims made by Linda Zondi and their timing.
For now, there has been an out-pour of support for De Villiers. Players like Virat Kohli, who has been his captain in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Royal Challengers Bangalore has said that he trusted him and feels that he is the most honest and committed player he has ever worked with. Others like Yuvraj Singh have also lent their support to the South African legend.
AB De Villiers, apart from being a great batsman, was also a man of high integrity and always played the game in the right spirit. That was the reason he has been one of the most loved cricketers of this generation across the globe. Hence, it is highly unlikely that his claims would be untrue. That would be very uncharacteristic of the man he was the virtues he represented.
One hopes that his retirement decision isn’t dragged any further and isn’t allowed to get any murkier by the authorities for any nefarious motives. He must be allowed to enjoy his post-cricket life in peace. De Villiers deserves it.