Responding to a claim made former South Africa selector Hussein Manack by At Cricket South Africa's (CSA) Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings, former skipper AB de Villiers denied that he wanted fast bowler Kagiso Rabada dropped from the side at any point, according to a report on ESPNCricinfo.
De Villiers was responding to the claims made by former selector Hussein Manack, who built his case around Khaya Zondo, who did not play a single game on the tour to India in 2015, despite David Miller being out of form throughout, sparking more talks of racial discrimination.
While the Zondo episode is well-documented, the fact that there was a could over Rabada's selection in the 2015-16 Wanderers Test against England has never been made public. "I had been to the practice the day before and a decision had to be made between playing Kyle Abbott and Hardus Viljoen," said Manack, who was selector then.
"A discussion at practice took place and they (the team management) said we must drop KG (Rabada).
"I asked on what basis. Rabada was 20 years old and he hadn't established himself as a great player but having seen him at the Lions, where he was coming through, I had seen a lot of him. He had a good enough reputation. There was a cricketing explanation that maybe the ball wasn't coming out of his hand right. I took it back to (bowling coach) Charl Langeveldt and ... Charl's view was that he was comfortable and everybody on the selection panel was unanimous that Rabada had to play. I said our decision is that Rabada has to play."
There was one more spot that had to be filled. We said between Abbott and Viljoen, you decide who you want. We don't have a strong view either way. In the end, they went for Viljoen and they weren't happy with the fact that we had stood our ground."
Rabada claimed his first five-wicket haul in that match and in the next Test at Centurion, Rabada scalped 13 wickets and was named the player of the match as the Proteas won by 280 runs. De Villiers completely denies any allegations of him playing any sort of role in a bid to drop Rabada. "I have never wanted KG dropped from any team at any time. The idea is ridiculous. He is one of the finest bowlers in world cricket."
Rabada has gone on to become one of the most feared bowlers in world cricket, having picked up over 350 international wickets since making his debut in 2014. Rabada has played three Tests, 32 ODIs and a couple of T20Is under de Villiers since 2015.