AB de Villiers on Tuesday (May 18) shut down the final door on his international comeback, with Cricket South Africa (CSA) stating that the player has decided “once and for all, that his retirement will remain final”.
A surprising development considering that last month when he was in India for IPL 2021 playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), De Villiers had indicated that he is “absolutely” up for a return in Proteas colours.
AB de Villiers had informed the press after scoring a majestic 34-ball 76 versus Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Chennai that he was in discussions with South Africa head coach Mark Boucher over a potential comeback ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
“Last year, he asked me if I would be interested. And I said, ‘absolutely’. And come the end of the IPL, we will have a look at where we are at with regards to my form and my fitness,” AB de Villiers had said.
“Also, the situation with his team – he’s got to look at his guys who have been performing well over the last while. If there’s no space for me, so be it. If I can slot in there, it will be fantastic if all those things fall in place. Waiting for [the chat with] Bouchy towards the end of the IPL, and we will then plan accordingly.”
CSA says AB de Villiers has decided his “retirement will remain final”
However, on Tuesday, all hopes of AB de Villiers coming back to play for South Africa were put to rest by the man himself, according to CSA’s statement. There were expectations of De Villiers making the trip to Ireland and West Indies, but he wasn’t included in any of the white-ball squads.
Ever since De Villiers put an abrupt end to his international career back in early 2018, speculations around his comeback had been rife. The great batsman’s own actions and comments from time to time haven’t helped the confusion either.
De Villiers, who has just decided that his retirement is final, had made a last-minute offer to be included in the 2019 World Cup squad but it was denied by the selectors and the team management.
At the time, it was felt that the decision-makers within CSA aren’t so keen to have him back and it’ll require a change in personnel at the helm for AB de Villiers to re-enter the scene.
The fans’ hopes reignited when a new leadership group, including director of cricket Graeme Smith and coach Boucher, came into being after Proteas’ disastrous World Cup campaign. But all possibilities of AB de Villiers playing for South Africa again now seems vanished “once and for all”.
The 37-year-old De Villiers is easily one of the greatest batsmen that South Africa have produced. He is still his country’s fourth-highest run-getter in Test cricket and second-highest in ODIs & T20Is. De Villiers is still in pink of health with his batting and scored 207 runs from his six innings in the now-suspended IPL 2021 at an average of 51.75 and a strike rate of 164.28.