Things could be going for South Africa. The South Africans have suffered three straight defeats to begin their 2019 ICC World Cup campaign, and their odds of moving on are currently hanging by a thread. At this point, odds makers (click the following link for more on types of sports bets) think South Africa will need something of a miracle in order to advance. To make matters worse, it turns out they could have fielded a more talented squad for the event if they had wanted.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) revealed on Thursday that AB de Villiers was available for selection to the squad just before the final roster was unveiled back in May. Earlier Thursday, Cricinfo initially reported the news, which CSA later confirmed.
De Villiers had retired from international competition in May of 2018 after captaining the South African side at the 2015 World Cup. The player subsequently confirmed his decision to stay retired the following November, saying that he enjoyed the extra time off that he was able to spend with his family.
However, de Villiers’ recent stint with the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League seems to have affected his thinking on the matter. De Villiers reportedly approached Faf du Plessis, the team’s captain, shortly before the finalized World Cup squad was announced in order to inform him of his availability for selection. De Villiers said that he would like to come out of retirement in order to give the World Cup another go.
News of de Villiers’ unretirement quickly reached Linda Zondi and the rest of the squad selection team, but the members decided to deep de Villiers out of the squad out of respect for the rest of the players that had fought for a spot on the roster. Players like Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks were among those fighting for the final spots on the team at the time. All were playing domestically during de Villiers’ retirement.
Zondi released the following statement on Thursday, “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 – 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. 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.”
The statement continued, “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 finished 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 that decision.”
South Africa have really struggled in the World Cup to this point, which surely has many wondering whether the decision to exclude de Villiers was the right one.