Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
8 Jun 2019
9:30 am

I’m sitting on the fence over the AB issue

Heinz Schenk

What if AB could have led the Proteas to glory?

AB de Villiers. Picture: icc-cricket.com

The purpose of a column is airing an opinion and motivating it.

But I have a confession: when it comes to the AB de Villiers World Cup selection drama, I just don’t know.

Frankly, the whole debate again illustrates how professional sport is increasingly finding it difficult to balance on-field excellence – winning – with more intangible issues such as morality and team culture.

If the issue of De Villiers letting Proteas team management know of his desire to make a comeback for the World Cup 24 hours before the squad announcement is a moral one, then you’ve got to back Cricket South Africa (CSA).

The local governing body can be accused of being economical with transparency in recent dealings, but I have no reason not to believe selection convener Linda Zondi that he pleaded with De Villiers not to announce his international retirement in May 2018.

He’d just come off a magnificent Test series against Australia and certainly didn’t look like a “tired” man.

I’m convinced De Villiers would have picked and chosen what assignments he would want to take in the build-up to the World Cup and CSA would have allowed him that freedom.

Yet the condition that he had to feature in the Pakistan and Sri Lanka ODI series this year was surely fair, as Ottis Gibson and Co wanted to start settling their best XI for the showpiece tournament.

It’s also not as if there wasn’t a man who stepped up in De Villiers’ absence. Rassie van der Dussen is not AB, but he averages 66 since making his international debut.

However, from a ruthlessly professional perspective, you can also argue that South Africa erred.

De Villiers is still the best batsman in this country.

The West Indies have shown that they don’t mind recalling outcasts – Andre Russell last played an ODI in July 2018 and Dwayne Bravo (a reserve group member) five years ago.

What if AB could have led the Proteas to glory? Imagine what springboard that would have been for the new generation to stamp their mark after the tournament?

So, yeah, forgive me for sitting on the fence.

Heinz Schenk.

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