National convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said he felt like he had been hit by a train when AB de Villiers announced on Wednesday that he would no longer be available for the Proteas, in any format.
With the World Cup starting one year and one week from now, Zondi and his fellow selectors were excited about having De Villiers in the fold for the prize South African cricket desires the most.
But now that has been dashed and the Proteas’ World Cup chances have suffered a huge blow.
“For sure, AB was going to play a massive role for us at the World Cup and his decision came unexpectedly, I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. We had discussions and I made it clear to him that he was a big part of our plan to bring back
that silverware, but we respect his decision.
“It gives another player an opportunity, but there is only one AB de Villiers and those are big shoes to fill. To no longer have him in international cricket is very disappointing, but we say that out of selfishness because he has served his country well, as well as being such a great talent and role-model. At least we have a year to work with his replacement,” Zondi said.
De Villiers said in his retirement announcement that he has “run out of gas” and the demands of a young family have also no doubt taken their toll.
Given the form he displayed against India and Australia last summer and some of the phenomenal things he has done in the latest edition of the Indian Premier League, there is little doubt he would have been South Africa’s
greatest asset and drawcard at next year’s World Cup in England.
Zondi pointed to the irony that a couple of years ago, local fans were highly critical of the veteran batsman allegedly ‘picking and choosing’ when to be available for the Proteas, and now everyone is begging him just to make himself
available for the World Cup.
“We did discuss him playing just ODIs but we don’t want to get caught up in the position of making someone a special case. Previously people were asking us why we allow him to pick and choose,” Zondi said.