AB de Villiers says South Africa retirement is 'final'

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South African batsman A.B. de Villiers
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South African cricket coach Mark Boucher said on Tuesday he was disappointed that AB de Villiers had decided not to make an international comeback.

De Villiers’ decision was revealed earlier in a statement by Cricket South Africa in announcing a squad to tour the West Indies next month.

"Discussions with AB de Villiers have concluded with the batsman deciding, once and for all, that his retirement will remain final," the statement said, without giving any further details.

There had been widespread speculation that De Villiers, 37, would make himself available for the T20 World Cup, scheduled for India in October and November.

"AB has his reasons, which I respect,” Boucher told The Citizen newspaper in Johannesburg. “Unfortunately he’s no longer in the mix. I say unfortunately because I think we all agree that he’s still one of the best – if not the best – T20 players in world cricket.”

Boucher said De Villiers had expressed concern about taking the place of a player who had been part of the system since he retired from international cricket in 2018.

"But as a coach I needed to try and get our best players, for the team and the environment. AB is an energy-booster in any environment, but I respect his reasoning. It was worth a go, but now let’s move forward,” said Boucher.

De Villiers said last month that he would make a decision based on his form and fitness. He had a good campaign for Royal Challengers Bangalore before Covid-19 caused the tournament to be halted.

He scored 207 runs at an average of 51.75 with an outstanding strike rate of 164.28.

He was quoted in India after smashing 76 not out off 34 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders as saying, “Come the end of the IPL, we will have a look at where we are at with regards to my form and my fitness. Also, the situation with his (Boucher’s) team - he's got to look at his guys who have been performing well over the last while. If there's no space for me, so be it. If I can slot in there, it will be fantastic if all those things fall in place.”

Victor Mpitsang, convener of selectors, told AFP, “There has been a lot of speculation, especially given how he has been playing in the IPL. Mark Boucher was very clear that he was having conversations with AB.

"Obviously he would always add value in whatever format he was playing, especially in a T20 World Cup, but I have not spoken to him personally and I have to respect the fact that he retired from international cricket.”

Also missing from the squads for the West Indies was former captain Faf du Plessis, 36, who retired from Test cricket in January but stated he remained available for white-ball cricket.

"Faf is not part of it at the moment,” said Mpitsang. “We haven’t selected him for this tour but he might still feature later on.”

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