Not considering AB de Villiers comeback offer was based on being fair to the team: SA selection panel convenor

After media reports of South Africa national selection panel convenor Linda Zondi not considering AB de Villiers‘ offer of reversing his international retirement for a spot in the team’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Cricket South Africa sent out a statement with Zondi putting forward his views on the matter, stating that the decision to not consider de Villiers for South Africa WC squad was based on principle and CSA had to be fair to the team, the selection panel, the franchise system and players.

“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,” read the statement.

The release stated that Zondi, in 2018, had pleaded with de Villiers to not retire and was given the option to plan and monitor his season to get him to the World Cup fresh and in a good space, by making himself available for national selection the home tours against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which would have made his eligible for World Cup selection. However, de Villiers instead choose play in the Pakistan and Bangladesh Premier Leagues.

“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,” Zondi said in the statement.

Zondi also said that it was shock for the management when skipper Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson shared AB’s desire to reverse his retirement.

“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.”