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‘Was way, way too late to change team’ – Du Plessis on AB de Villiers’ return bid

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

AB de Villiers’ last-gasp efforts for an international return might have divided opinion among fans and critics, but captain Faf du Plessis insists that the recent developments could help South Africa focus better on the task at hand.

Revelations about de Villiers’ eleventh-hour proposal surfaced amid South Africa’s faltering start to the 2019 World Cup, where they now have just one point after three losses and one rain-affected game.

Disclosing further on the AB de Villiers story, du Plessis said that he had received a call from the retired batsman during the Indian Premier League, in April, just a day before the squad announcement for the World Cup; the management had immediately agreed, in unison, that the approach was too late.

“It was just a conversation, a phone call the night before the team got announced. It was just a ‘This is what I’m feeling’. I said to him, ‘I think it is too late but I will check in with the coach and the selectors the next morning to get their opinion on it, as the squad was already announced or picked’.

“But that day there was the announcement. When I spoke to the coach and the selectors the next day, they all agreed that it was way, way too late to change the team, or 99.99 per cent [too late].”

Having retired in 2018, de Villiers made a sudden effort to be included in the World Cup team

Du Plessis asserted that the recent developments haven’t had a ‘huge impact’ on the team, even as they come to terms with the three losses. While admitting that his side haven’t performed to expectations, the 34-year-old believes that the team, even in the face of defeat, is still very strong together.

“We do feel like the news came in and went through the team. It didn’t have a huge impact. There was just a discussion on clarity and on making sure everyone knows what’s going on and then it was moving on. The team was happy to get on with business. But it is stuff like that, generally, that can give you direction in your team and give you purpose to focus on what lies ahead.

“You need individuals within your side to stand up and step up and pull the team up. We need individuals to stand up and step up to lift the team’s morale. If you get that going, then other players can feed off their confidence.”

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