South Africa rejected last-ditch offer from De Villiers to come out of retirement

AB de Villiers

AB de Villiers made a late offer to come out of international retirement to play for South Africa in this summer’s World Cup, a report has claimed.

An ESPNcricinfo exclusive states that the 35-year-old offered his services back in April, a day before the selectors chose their 15-man squad for the tournament in England.

South Africa team management rejected the idea of a recall though, with the report stating that they thought it would be ‘unfair to the squad that had been together for the past year’.

De Villiers announced his international retirement in May 2018, but he reportedly ‘approached South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis, head coach Ottis Gibson and convenor of selectors Linda Zondi’ to convey his willingness to return. This idea was ‘not even considered’.

Cricket South Africa’s selection panel convenor, Linda Zondi, issued a statement confirming the report and detailing the reasons for the refusal.

“I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018. Although there was a perception that he was picking and choosing when to play [for South Africa] – 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,” Zondi said.

“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 respectively. He turned down the offer and said he was at peace with his decision to retire.

“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 on April 18th was a shock to all of us. 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.”