Former South Africa skipper and legendary batsman, AB de Villiers, has come out in defence of himself following allegations that he asked premier fast bowler Kagiso Rabada to be dropped from the Test side during his captaincy tenure.
De Villiers made a strong response to a testimony given by Hussein Manack, the former national selector, at the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings organised by the Cricket South Africa.
The accusation to deliberately drop Rabada was related to a Test against England in the 2015-16 season at Johannesburg where, although the young speedster played, Manack claimed De Villiers had asked him to be dropped.
“I had been to the practice the day before and a decision had to be made between playing Kyle Abbott and Hardus Viljoen,” said Manack, as per ESPNcricinfo. “A discussion at practice took place and they [the team management] said we must drop KG [Rabada].”
“I asked on what basis. Rabada was 20 years old and he hadn’t established himself as a great player but having seen him at the Lions, where he was coming through, I had seen a lot of him. He had a good enough reputation. There was a cricketing explanation that maybe the ball wasn’t coming out of his hand right. I took it back to [bowling coach] Charl Langeveldt and … Charl’s view was that he was comfortable and everybody on the selection panel was unanimous that Rabada had to play. I said our decision is that Rabada has to play.”
“There was one more spot that had to be filled. We said between Abbott and Viljoen, you decide who you want. We don’t have a strong view either way. In the end, they went for Viljoen and they weren’t happy with the fact that we had stood our ground.”
AB de Villiers responds to allegations related to Kagiso Rabada’s selection during his captaincy tenure
That Test match saw Rabada deliver his maiden five-fer in the game’s traditional format for South Africa and was a fine exhibition of the talent and skill that would be on display in the years to follow.
AB de Villiers, on his part, completely denied the suggestion that he had asked for Rabada to be left out, calling the accusation “ridiculous”.
“I have never wanted KG dropped from any team at any time,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “The idea is ridiculous. He is one of the finest bowlers in world cricket.”
Rabada played 3 Tests, 32 ODIs and 2 T20Is under De Villiers’ captaincy and enjoyed an excellent record in the game’s two longer formats. While he averaged only 13.04 for his 21 wickets in those Tests, the pacer took 51 scalps while going for only 4.83 runs per over in ODIs.