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Why du Plessis didn’t convince de Villiers to return despite ‘desperately’ needing him

by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

Faf du Plessis, the former South Africa captain, has revealed why he didn’t ask AB de Villiers to return to the South African side after his retirement, “even at times when we desperately needed him”.

De Villiers announced a sudden retirement from international cricket in May 2018, leaving a gaping hole in the Proteas side. Du Plessis, in a captain’s capacity, was worried for the team and its progress in de Villiers’ absence, but he said he “never ever after that tried to convince him again”.

While in conversation with R Ashwin on the latter’s YouTube channel, the Chennai Super Kings batsman recalled his reaction when de Villiers informed him of his decision to bring an end to his international career.

“When AB left, it was really tough for me, because I depended a lot on him, as a friend, and obviously as the best player in the team; we needed his skills,” du Plessis said. “So that conversation was … when he said that to me, said he was done, he was finished with international cricket, as a friend, my first instinct was, ‘I’m here for you, and I’ll support you, if you feel like you’re at the end of your career and you don’t want to do it anymore, then that’s okay – I support that decision 100 per cent’.

“As a captain, I was like – ‘how do we move forward without AB, how do we get the same performances?’ But the friend in me trumped the captain in me. And I just said, ‘We’re going to miss you, are you sure?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I am 100 per cent sure, I don’t want to play international cricket anymore. I don’t have the drive to do it anymore. So I am stopping.’

“I respected that immediately and left it there. I never ever after that tried to convince him again, because I respected what he said. Even at times when we desperately needed him.”

During the 2019 World Cup, there was controversy when CSA revealed that de Villiers had offered to reverse his decision shortly before the tournament, but the board turned him down as it wouldn’t have been “fair to the team”.

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