Bengaluru, June 7: In times of crisis, even the normal sounds abnormal. South African cricket is witness to one such reality of life. At a time when Faf du Plessis's side is going through a tough phase after losing three straight games in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, another controversy has unfolded off the field.
A recent report in ESPNCricinfo has revealed that former Proteas international AB de Villiers had approached the team management seeking a return to the World Cup squad but he was turned down. South African selection panel has clarified the subject saying it was not possible to accommodate De Villiers just a few hours before the announcement of the final squad.
Panel convenor Linda Zondi said he had requested De Villiers when he called it quits a year ago to reverse his decision, but the latter did not budge. He did not play for South Africa in the international series in the last one year which was a required criterion to get considered for the World Cup squad selection. De Villiers though played franchise cricket in various countries in this time. It was said that De Villiers's abrupt selection would have breached the selection and fitness policies and also do injustice to young players like Rassie van der Dussen who are trying to cement their place in the national side.
There is substance in what the South Africa authorities say. They have spoken about abiding by the principles which, even if mocked by many, is thoroughly valid. Even though De Villiers is still a flawless batsman and we saw that in the recent Indian Premier League, he did not conduct himself as perfectly with the selection. The man, it seems, had called it quits because of momentary exhaustion and after a long break, feels he is fit again to play for his country. But he could not take the system for granted and instead, could have taken a long break from international cricket, to come back in time for the World Cup. May be, people are not matured enough to take retirement at 34!
Talking about morality, hosts of the World Cup England have set up an entirely reverse precedent. West Indian-born Jofra Archer had to go through a prolonged procedure to become eligible to play for England but the country's board 'fast-tracked' him so that they can get his service in the tournament.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan though supported the idea of playing the talented bowling all-rounder in the World Cup, but he too had conceded that it was not a moral thing to do for the board. The English cricket authorities have certainly lost the lock of the Pandora's Box now by playing Archer, 24, as more demands can come up tomorrow for the same.
South Africa and England have come up with two contradictory tales with their respective team selections for this World Cup. Debates will continue uninterrupted but at the end of the day, it is the performance that matters.