AB de Villiers on World Cup selection controversy: 'Did not try to force my way into the squad on tournament eve'

AB de Villiers has provided his version of events and thought process behind asking to be included in the South Africa squad for the World Cup.

FirstCricket Staff, Jul 12, 2019 16:58:31 IST

Former South Africa batsman AB de Villiers has broken his silence on the controversy that engulfed the team in the middle of the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. It was alleged that the legendary batsman had made himself available for selection just a day prior to the announcement of the 15-man Proteas squad for the tournament.

AB de Villiers on World Cup selection controversy: Did not try to force my way into the squad on tournament eve

File image of AB de Villiers. Reuters

The alleged request baffled many especially with De Villiers calling it quits from international cricket in May last year. However as per reports, he had a late change of heart and wanted to be included in the World Cup squad. On Friday, however, De Villiers, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, released a statement in which he laid out his side of the story.

Linda Zondi, chairman of the South Africa selection panel, said that de Villiers' "desire" to be included in the squad came as a "shock" to not just to him but also to captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson.

"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," the statement read.

"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.

"Second, on the day of my 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.

"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.

"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. Now, at this stage of my life, I would like to continue spending time with my family and to play in selected T20 tournaments in SA and around the world.

"I have been massively proud to have played for, and indeed captain, my country on the cricket field. My relationships with the Proteas players remain as strong as ever, and I will always be available to support and assist the next generation.

"Lastly, in stating my side of this unpleasant and unnecessary saga, I want to stress my continuing support for the team and the game that has shaped my life and provided me with so many lasting friendships and incredible opportunities."

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Updated Date: Jul 12, 2019 16:58:31 IST


World Cup 2019 Points Table

Team p w l nr pts
India 9 7 1 1 15
Australia 9 7 2 0 14
England 9 6 3 0 12
New Zealand 9 5 3 1 11
Pakistan 9 5 3 1 11
Sri Lanka 9 3 4 2 8
South Africa 9 3 5 1 7
Bangladesh 9 3 5 1 7
West Indies 9 2 6 1 5
Afghanistan 9 0 9 0 0





Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3462 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
6 New Zealand 4056 254