Faf opens up on AB saga: We're still friends

AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Southampton - Skipper Faf du Plessis has opened up on the AB de Villiers media storm that rocked the Proteas camp last week. 

News broke last Thursday alleging that De Villiers, who retired from international cricket in May last year, had made himself available to the national side just hours before the squad was announced on April 18. 

At the time, CSA convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said that he had heard of De Villiers' availability on the morning of the squad announcement while Proteas coach Ottis Gibson said he had also only heard from De Villiers in the hours before the announcement. 

Speaking to media at the Rose Bowl on Monday following South Africa's washed-out clash against the West Indies, Du Plessis, who has been friends with De Villiers since childhood, says he first learned of De Villiers' availability on the day before the World Cup squad was announced. 

While both Du Plessis and De Villiers were at the IPL at the time, the skipper says it was not a face-to-face conversation. 

"He didn't come to me. It was just a conversation, a phone-call the night before the team got announced," Du Plessis confirmed.

"It was just a 'This is what I'm feeling'.

"I said to him that I thought it was too late but that I would check in with the coach and the selectors the next morning to get their opinion on it as the squad was already announced or picked.

"When I spoke to the coach and the selectors the next day, they all agreed that it was way, way too late to change the team."

While the news breaking mid-World Cup obviously came as an unwanted distraction, Du Plessis believes that the Proteas squad was still mentally strong and that it had not affected them.

It was a sentiment shared by batting coach Dale Benkenstein. 

"The batters are not thinking about AB ... they've got enough to think about," he said.

"They are the ones here and they all deserve to be here. This is their story and they've got to put it right."

In addressing his relationship with De Villiers, Du Plessis downplayed the events of last week.

"AB and I are still friends," he said.

"This incident has not changed that. This is a small thing for a friendship that goes so way back."

The Proteas are next in action when they take on Afghanistan in Cardiff on Saturday.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...   

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