Cricket South Africa National Selection Panel convenor, Linda Zondi responded to media reports that said South Africa turned down AB de Villiers’ proposal to come out of retirement and play for South Africa at the World Cup.

In a statement released by Cricket South Africa, Zondi clarified that there was “no option” but to reject his offer to return with the team for the World Cup with the South African team for the showpiece event already finalised.

Here is the full text of the statement:

“I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018. Although there was a perception that he was picking and choosing when to play - which was not true- I did give him the option to plan and monitor his season to get him to the World Cup fresh and in a good space. We made it clear that he would have to play during the home tours against Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be considered for selection, instead, he signed to play in the Pakistan and Bangladesh Premier Leagues respectively. He turned down the offer and said he was at peace with his decision to retire.

“For Faf du Plessis and Ottis Gibson to share AB’s desire to be included in the squad on the day we announced our World Cup squad on April 18th was a shock to all of us. AB left a big vacuum when he retired, we had a year to find players at franchise level to fill the gap. We had players who put in the hard work, who put up their hands and deserved to be given the opportunity to go to the World Cup. The decision was based on principle; we had to be fair to the team, the selection panel, our franchise system and players.

“At no point in the year that he had retired did he make himself available for selection. It was no option when I received the news on the day of the squad announcement, our squad was finalised and confirmed. AB is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, but above all else, we have to stay true to our morals and principles, there is no regret in the decision.” Zondi was quoted saying in the official statement.

‘Focus on supporting the team’

AB de Villiers responded to reports that South Africa rejected his proposal to play for the team at the ongoing World Cup just 24 hours before the team was to be named, by urging fans to “focus on supporting the team”.

“All that’s important is that we should all focus on supporting the team at the World Cup. There is a long way to go and I believe the boys can still go all the way #ProteaFire,” De Villiers tweeted.

South Africa have endured a tough start to the World Cup, losing their first three games in England and Wales.