It was a series of phone calls between three different nations – India, England and South Africa – but so far the stories of the Proteas coach, captain and convenor of selectors seem to match up when it comes to the saga of AB de Villiers’ unretirement on the eve of the World Cup squad announcement.
Captain Faf du Plessis had his chance on Monday to put his side of the story and he followed the previously given timelines.
“AB just gave me a phone call during the IPL, the night before the squad announcement, and we chatted about what he was feeling. I said I thought that it was too late but I would check in with the coach and convenor of selectors the next day because the squad had already been picked but just needed to be announced. We all agreed that it was way too late,” Du Plessis said on Monday after his team’s washed out match against the West Indies, their first since the De Villiers story broke.
Coach Gibson was in England at the time and phoned convenor of selectors Linda Zondi back in South Africa the next morning.
The news that the champion batsman had made himself available for the World Cup squad on the eve of the squad announcement arrived with such bad timing – on the morning after South Africa’s defeat to India – that one could forgive Du Plessis for being extremely angry with his childhood friend for creating another media storm around an already embattled team and another distraction for the players.
But such is the enduring nature of their friendship, according to Du Plessis, that he says there has been no change in their relationship.
“AB and I are still friends. This incident has not changed that. This is a small thing for a friendship that goes so way back,” Du Plessis told the South African media in Southampton.
But despite Du Plessis, Gibson and Zondi all seeming to get their ducks in a row, lingering questions remain, such as were their previous discussions between De Villiers and Du Plessis and/or Gibson about his comeback?
There have been reports that De Villiers sounded them out at the start of the IPL, but Gibson merely said he could not remember when he first heard about a possible retraction of his retirement from Du Plessis.
But as the coach has pointed out before, if De Villiers really wanted to play in such an important event as the World Cup, he would have made sure his availability was abundantly clear.