I did not demand to be included in World Cup squad – de Villiers

Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers has revealed that on the day he announced his international retirement, in May 2018, he was asked privately by a person from within the Cricket South Africa set-up whether “the door was still open” for him to play the World Cup. De Villiers said yes then, but insisted that he did not push for late inclusion when he contacted Faf du Plessis shortly before the squad was named.
De Villiers did not want to name the person who had asked him whether he was available for the World Cup, but said that was what prompted him to “casually” talk with du Plessis, the South Africa captain, during the IPL and repeat that he was available for World Cup selection but “only if required”.
That conversation, as revealed by ESPNcricinfo in June, happened just days before South Africa’s World Cup squad was going to be picked. Linda Zondi, chairman of the South Africa selection panel, said that de Villiers’ “desire” to be included in the squad came as a “shock” to not just him but du Plessis and Ottis Gibson, the South Africa coach.
However, de Villiers has now said he never wished to “force his way” into the squad. “On the day of my [retirement] announcement, I was privately asked whether ‘the door was still open’ for me to play in the World Cup,” de Villiers said in a statement, seen by ESPNcricinfo. “I was asked. I did not offer. I quickly replied ‘Yes’. With hindsight, maybe I should have just said no, but my natural instinct has always been to find a way to oblige whenever possible.
“During the weeks and months that followed, there was no formal contact between Cricket South Africa or the Proteas and me. I didn’t call them, and they didn’t call me. I had made my decision and the Proteas moved on, enjoying success under the expert guidance of coach Ottis Gibson and the outstanding captaincy of Faf du Plessis.
“Faf and I have been friends since we were at school together and, two days before the World Cup squad was announced, I contacted him for a chat. I had been in decent form during the Indian Premier League and casually repeated what I had said when asked a year earlier, that I was available if required… but only if required.
“I made absolutely no demands at all. I certainly did not try to force my way into the World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament, and did not expect to be included. There was no burning issue from my side, and no sense of injustice.”
According to de Villiers, the reason he did not speak out immediately after the news broke was that he did not want to distract South Africa’s faltering World Cup campaign. Many fans, former cricketers and media were critical of de Villiers’ move with some saying he was not entitled to make such a late approach just because he was a South African great.
De Villiers said that he was making the statement now because of the criticism that followed. “I continue to be asked to comment on the disclosure, and distortion, of a private conversation that took place just before the squad was announced and, for the benefit of anyone who may have felt let down, would like to explain what happened.