The swashbuckling former South Africa skipper AB de Villiers has opened on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 selection saga and has made it clear that he never forced his way back into the team.
He has stressed that he was asked if he would like to be included in the South Africa World Cup squad and it wasn’t him demanding to be part of the touring party.
Former Proteas captain has revealed that on the day he announced his international retirement, in May 2018, he was asked privately by a person from within the Cricket South Africa set-up whether “the door was still open” for him to play the World Cup. De Villiers said yes then, but insisted that he did not push for late inclusion when he contacted Faf du Plessis shortly before the squad was named.
“Now the Proteas’ World Cup campaign is over, and the team cannot be distracted, I would like to respond to unjustified criticism of me during the tournament,” de Villiers said in a Twitter Statement on Friday (July 12). “I continue to be asked to comment on the disclosure, and distortion, of a private conversation that took place just before the squad was announced and, for the benefit of anyone who may have felt let down, would like to explain what happened.
“First, I announced my retirement from international cricket in May 2018 because I wanted to reduce my workload and spend more time with my wife and young sons. Some have insisted I was motivated purely by money. They are wrong. In truth, I have turned down many lucrative offers to play around the world, and have cut the time spent away from home each year from eight months to just over three months.
“During the weeks and months that followed, there was no formal contact between Cricket South Africa or the Proteas and me. I didn’t call them, and they didn’t call me. I had made my decision and the Proteas moved on, enjoying success under the expert guidance of coach Ottis Gibson and the outstanding captaincy of Faf du Plessis.
“Faf and I have been friends since we were at school together and, two days before the World Cup squad was announced, I contacted him for a chat. I had been in decent form during the Indian Premier League and casually repeated what I had said when asked a year earlier, that I was available if required … but only if required. I made absolutely no demands at all. I certainly did not try to force my way into the World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament, and did not expect to be included.”
De Villiers acknowledged he was unfairly criticised but does not hold a grudge against anyone. “Out of the blue, on the evening after the Proteas lost to India, suffering a third successive World Cup defeat, elements of our private conversation were disclosed to the media, and distorted to cast me in the worst possible light.
“The story was not leaked by me, or anybody associated with me, or by Faf. Maybe someone wanted to deflect criticism. I don’t know,” he revealed.
“As a result, I was unfairly described as arrogant, selfish and indecisive but, with all humility, my conscience is clear. I retired for honest reasons and, when asked if I could be available for the World Cup, agreed to keep the door open. In the event, understandably, the team moved on. No problem. I am not angry with anybody.”