AB de Villiers accused by Linda Zondi, former South Africa selector

Former South Africa selector lashes out at AB de Villiers; calls his decisions unethical


AB de Villiers has landed himself in a soup after former national conevener of selectors, Linda Zondi, lashed out at his ambitious wish in 2019 to make a return to the South Africa side ahead of the ODI World Cup in England. 

AB de Villiers, who had announced his decision to step away from international cricket in 2018 after the series against Australia, had expressed willingness to be picked in South Africa’s ODI World Cup squad weeks before the tournament began, according to reports that surfaced after South Africa’s exit from the tournament. 

Faf du Plessis, de Villiers’ childhood mate and friend and also the Proteas captain at the time, is believed to have been the source of communication between the selectors and de Villiers. Faf’s request though was denied outright by Linda Zondi, then the convener of selectors. In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, he revealed his reasons for the same.

“When AB took a break [in 2017], he didn’t share the information with me,” Zondi said according to ESPNCricinfo. “I contacted him and said I wasn’t happy with what you have done and he apologised. Then there was the World Cup, which was a massive story. The captain [Faf du Plessis] came to me and said AB would like to be included in the World Cup.

“I turned it down because AB had earlier come to me and said he wanted to retire and I told him [then] we need you in the World Cup in England. If there are certain series you miss, we can work with that. I said I am happy to manage your time and you can retire after the World Cup. He said no, he wants to retire. Then, Faf came that AB wanted to return. I turned it down. I thought it was unethical to the players who were part of the squad.” 

In the SJN Hearings, de Villiers was also accused of denying Khaya Zondo a fair run in the side despite opportunities arising on an India tur in 2015. Another former selector Hussein Manack had said at the hearings that South Africa’s then captain AB de Villiers blocked Zondo’s selection in an ODI against India in 2015.

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Clearing the air around it, Zondi once again accused de Villiers.

“What happened on the day was, because I wasn’t there, the selector on tour [Hussein Manack] became the final decision-maker,” Zondi said. “I’m glad Hussein came and confessed that he had pressure put on him. I was clear with him that I was very unhappy with the decision.”

“He [Manack] contacted us the night before saying JP is injured, so we will need a replacement. Secondly, we have David Miller who is not in form. The first thing we had to deal with was to fly in a replacement from South Africa. Because even if Khaya played, we still needed to have a back-up.
“We said fine, it’s not a difficult situation. Khaya must play. Khaya had been to India. He was in form. He was a batter, and the spot was in his position. He would not have been thrown in the deep end. It was a no-brainer. Khaya must play. It was made clear to Hussein that Khaya must play. In the morning, I turned on the TV and I saw Khaya was not playing.
“He [Hussein] shared the information with the captain AB de Villiers and according to Hussein, AB was unhappy. He sensed AB put him in a corner. He felt Dean Elgar, because of experience, should play, and Hussein gave in. When he gave in, he didn’t come back to me and said we are changing our decision. AB knew that I was a full-time convenor. At any stage, if the captain was not happy with the selection, he should have contacted me. The CEO [Haroon Lorgat] was on tour and the CEO himself entertained the discussion. The captain didn’t come to me, the CEO didn’t come to me. When the team came back to South Africa, I made sure the right process was followed and Khaya played in the next series.