Former SA chief selector reveals why de Villiers didn't play 2019 World Cup

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21 Oct 2021 | 07:38 PM
authorcricket.com staff

Former SA chief selector reveals why de Villiers didn't play 2019 World Cup

Linda Zondi said that it would've been unethical to the selected players for the tournament

Former South Africa chief selector Linda Zondi revealed that he had suggested former captain AB De Villiers to announce his international retirement after 2019 World Cup, but could not entertain the star batter's attempt to make a return as it would've been unethical to the players selected.

In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Zondi spoke about the friction between himself and De Villiers surrounding the retirement decision and the non-selection of Khaya Zondo during the 2015 tour of India. De Villiers announced his international retirement in May, 2018 but decided to return to the national side for the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.

"When AB took a break [in 2017], he didn't share the information with me. I contacted him and said I wasn't happy with what you have done and he apologized," Zondi said.

"Then there was the World Cup, which was a massive story The captain [Faf du Plessis] came to me and said AB would like to be included in the World Cup. I turned it down because AB had earlier come to me and said he wanted to retire and I told him [then] we need you in the World Cup in England. 

"If there are certain series you miss, we can work with that. I said I am happy to manage your time and you can retire after the World Cup. He said no, he wants to retire. Then, Faf came that AB wanted to return. I turned it down. I thought it was unethical to the players who were part of the squad."

At the recent CSA's Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings, former selector Hussein Manack alleged De Villiers of racial bias for the non-selection of middle-order batter Khaya Zondo during the 2015 tour of India. Zondi further shed light on the episode saying De Villiers pressurized Hussein into leave out Zondo after JP Duminy was injured ahead of an ODI.

"He (Hussein) contacted us (selection panel) the night before saying JP is injured, so we will need a replacement. Secondly, we have David Miller who is not in form. The first thing we had to deal with was to fly in a replacement from South Africa. Because even if Khaya played, we still needed to have a back-up," Zondi remembered.

"It was made clear to Hussein that Khaya must play. In the morning, I turned on the TV and I saw Khaya was not playing. He [Hussein] shared the information with the captain AB de Villiers and according to Hussein, AB was unhappy. He sensed AB put him in a corner. He felt Dean Elgar, because of experience, should play, and Hussein gave in. When he gave in, he didn't come back to me and said we are changing our decision," he elaborated.

"At any stage, if the captain was not happy with the selection, he should have contacted me. The CEO [Haroon Lorgat] was on tour and the CEO himself entertained the discussion," he further added.

Despite the tussle, Zondi said he never experienced racism from De Villiers because he was a black convenor.

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ICC Cricket World Cup, 2019South AfricaFaf du PlessisAB de Villiers

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