The AB de Villiers unretirement saga had no effect on Rassie van der Dussen, the player who effectively took his place, the Proteas batsman said in Cardiff on Thursday.
Van der Dussen has slotted into the South African middle-order with aplomb since making his debut in January, scoring 466 runs in 11 innings, at an average of 66.57, with five fifties, but convenor of selectors Linda Zondi has confirmed that he would have been the batsman to make way if they had accepted De Villiers’ last-ditch effort to play in the World Cup.
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The revelation that De Villiers made himself available for the World Cup came like a bombshell the morning after South Africa had lost to India, their third successive defeat.
“It really has not affected me as much as people might like to think. If he had not retired, then it would have influenced me directly. But I believe Ottis Gibson and Faf du Plessis gave him the opportunity to manage his workloads in order to ensure he made it to the World Cup. They gave him a fair chance, he said no and retired, and they all accepted it, they had to.
“But I wasn’t surprised to hear that he wanted to make a comeback. The media have published a lot on AB and when you think about how well he’s gone in the last year and the fact that all the biggest stars in any sport want to perform on the biggest stage – which this World Cup is – then it’s no surprise he might want to come back. I’m just happy to be mentioned in the same sentence as AB because he’s one of the best players there’s ever been. But can I play a matchwinning innings for my country? Yes, I can,” Van der Dussen said.
Van der Dussen was mildly critical of De Villiers placing a call 24 hours before the World Cup squad announcement to try and get into the squad.
“To wait until the day before, when the squad has already been picked and the team has been working together for longer than a year, was maybe not handling things correctly from his side. And if the selectors had agreed to including him, it would have set a difficult precedent,” Van der Dussen said.