Johannesburg: The great AB de Villiers 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, a media report has claimed.
According to ESPNCricinfo, De Villiers made this offer in May, barely 24 hours before the final squad for this ongoing showpiece in the UK was to be announced by Cricket South Africa.
The revelation comes amid a disastrous start to South Africa's World Cup campaign, which has seen them lose three matches including one to Bangladesh.
While Wednesday's six-wicket defeat to India turned the situation from bad to worse, the loss of pace great Dale Steyn to a shoulder injury has also considerably weakened the team.
The three straight defeats have left them with an improbable task of winning all six of their remaining preliminary fixtures, just to keep their prospects of reaching the semi-finals alive.
The 35-year-old swashbuckler is considered a modern-day great for his innovative shots and more importantly, his ability to decimate rival attacks, making him a game-changer.
The website claimed that De Villiers approached South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis, head coach Ottis Gibson and convenor of selectors Linda Zondi, expressing his desire to come out of international retirement, but the offer was not entertained by the trio.
Retirement in 2018, exactly a year before the World Cup, meant De Villiers could not fulfill the selection criteria, which included playing domestic or international cricket in the intervening months.
The report stated that the collective view of those sought out by De Villiers was that recalling the dashing batsman at the last moment would have been unfair on the players who have been performing in his absence, such as Rassie van der Dussen.
Dussen made three fifties in his first four ODI innings after making his debut against Pakistan in January.
Before the cricket community trained its eyes on the World Cup, De Villiers turned out for his IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore.