AB breaks silence on World Cup storm: ‘Criticism is unjustified’

South Africa's AB de Villiers. AFP/File/Glyn KIRK

South Africa's AB de Villiers. AFP/File/Glyn KIRK

The Proteas legend was alleged to have made a last-ditch effort to come out of retirement to play in the showpiece tournament.

AB de Villiers has finally delivered his version of events following last month’s media storm over his alleged last-ditch attempt to play in this year’s World Cup.

Details of the Proteas legend’s desire to come out of international retirement on the eve of South Africa’s official squad announcement emerged after the team’s loss to India in Southampton, heaping pressure on a side already dogged by a poor start to the tournament.

In a statement released on Friday, the 35-year-old doesn’t deny that he casually kept hopes of a comeback alive, but reiterates that he never demanded consideration.

ALSO READ: UPDATE: Proteas confirm AB’s World Cup offer was turned down

“I certainly didn’t try to force my way into the World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament, and didn’t expect to be included. There was no burning issue from my side, and no sense of injustice,” said De Villiers.

“On the day of my (retirement) announcement (in May 2018), I was privately asked whether ‘the door was still open’ for me to play in the World Cup. 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. 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.”

De Villiers blames “elements” for leaking and framing the story out of context.

ALSO READ: AB mistimed his retirement, says Ottis

“The story was not leaked by me, or anybody associated with me, or by Faf. Maybe someone wanted to deflect criticism. I don’t know.

“As a result, I was unfairly described as arrogant, selfish and indecisive but, with all humility, my conscience is clear.”

The former Proteas skipper also added that he and childhood friend Du Plessis remain on good terms and that he’ll continue to support the national team unconditionally.

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