AB de Villiers clears air, says did not demand to be included in WC squad

Veteran South African cricketer had kicked up a row during the World Cup

52-ab-de-villiers-photocorp AB de Villiers | File

Veteran South African cricketer AB de Villiers on Friday broke silence regarding his offer to return to the national cricket team ahead of World Cup 2019. In a formal statement on Friday, de Villiers emphasised that he did not demand to be included in the World Cup team of South Africa. 

"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... 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," stated de Villiers. 

"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. There was no burning issue from my side, and no sense of injustice," he said.

On June 6, just after the commencement of World Cup 2019, de villiers had kicked up a row after he claimed that he wanted to come out of retirement for the World Cup, but his last-ditch offer was rejected by South Africa's team management on the eve of the squad announcement.

"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."

de Villiers explained that there was no contact between Cricket South Africa and himself after his retirement. "Then, 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. 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," the Royal Challengers Bengaluru batsman said in his statement. 

Following de Villiers's claims in June, former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar had released a video criticising the South African bastman for choosing “money over country”.

A couple of days later, South African captain Faf du Plessis had said that he had told his former teammate that it was too late to consider the offer.  “He (de Villiers) didn't come to me. It was just a conversation, a phone call the night before the team got announced. It was just a ‘This is what I'm feeling’. I said to him ‘I think it is too late but I will check in with the coach and the selectors the next morning to get their opinion on it as the squad was already announced or picked’,” du Plessis said.

South Africa had a disastrous World Cup campaign this year, finishing seventh with three wins and seven points.