Ex-Proteas chief selector asked AB to pick and choose series but he opted to retire: 'I begged him'

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AB de Villiers celebrates his 31-ball hundred in 2015's Pink ODI. (Gallo Images)
AB de Villiers celebrates his 31-ball hundred in 2015's Pink ODI. (Gallo Images)
  • Former Proteas convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said AB de Villiers was given the option of picking and choosing the series he wanted to play in ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
  • De Villiers announced his retirement in May 2018, from where Zondi said he'd begged him to hold his retirement until after the World Cup.
  • After South Africa's bad start to what became a disastrous World Cup, it emerged that De Villiers had made an offer to rescind his retirement on the eve of the squad announcement.

Former Proteas convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said AB de Villiers was given allowance to pick and choose the series he wanted to play in ahead of the 2019 World Cup.

Despite that, De Villiers chose to stay retired after retiring in May 2018, but in what became a dramatic turn of events after the Proteas started their World Cup campaign badly, it emerged that De Villiers wanted to come back into the national team.

READ | 'I've never experienced AB de Villiers to be racist,' says former Proteas manager Moosajee

Zondi, who was a selector from 2013 and the convenor from 2019 until early 2020, said he turned down De Villiers's request to return to the team as it was going to affect the team's morale.

Zondi said the request had come through then limited-overs captain Faf du Plessis, with Zondi saying De Villiers rebuffed the concessions he made for him to go to the World Cup.

Linda Zondi. (File)

Zondi was testifying at the Cricket South Africa Cricket for Social Justice and Nation-building hearings.

"When the captain came to me and said AB would like to be included in the World Cup squad, I said no," Zondi said.

"When he contacted me and indicated his intention to retire, I actually begged him and told him we need you for the World Cup.

"If it means that you miss certain series so that you get more time to be ready, you'll do so.

"When he turned down the offer of us managing his time better, so long you're available for the World Cup, he said no, he wanted to retire after the World Cup.

"On the eve of the squad announcement, when the offer came, I turned it down because I personally spoke to him.

"It was also unethical that the players who were part of the 15-man squad were contacted and now I have to tell them that AB de Villiers decided to come back and you're not going to be selected.

"I made the decision and we moved on."

Zondi said he had a decent relationship with De Villiers, even though they had an early flashpoint where Zondi said De Villiers announced his retirement without telling him.

"When he retired for the first time, he didn't share that with me. I was the convenor that time and I saw it on the news," Zondi said.

"I contacted him and told him that I wasn't happy with what he did and it was unfair on me as the convenor that I had to see that on the news.

"He manned up, apologised and he said he should have done better. He came back and he continued playing."

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