South Africa head coach Mark Boucher has said that the reason for AB de Villiers’ not returning to the national team was his reluctance to take the spot of someone who has been with the side for a while.

In an interview with The Citizen, Boucher said the Proteas have no choice but to get past this disappointment and focus on the matches ahead.

Cricket South Africa on Tuesday announced that de Villiers won’t be coming out of international retirement ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup, saying that he has decided “once and for all” that he won’t return for the Proteas.

CSA said that “discussions with AB de Villiers have concluded with the batsman deciding once and for all that his retirement will remain final.”

The statement was reportedly made after CSA announced the team for a tour of the West Indies.

“AB has his reasons, which I respect. 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 was quoted as saying.

“But he alluded to being concerned about coming in ahead of other players who have been a part of the system. I don’t think it sat well with him, which I understand. 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.”

In May 2018, de Villiers had announced his retirement from international cricket. He played 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is before announcing his surprise retirement.

However, last month, the 37-year-old cricketer said it would be “fantastic” to make an international comeback ahead of the T20 World Cup.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in India in October-November.

“If I can slot in, it will be fantastic,” de Villiers had said after he played a match-winning innings for his franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore in the now-suspended season of Indian Premier League in April.

Speaking to reporters in Chennai, de Villiers had then said he will have a chat with South Africa head coach Boucher at the end of IPL 2021 while assessing his form and fitness after RCB’s campaign in the 14th season of the T20 tournament.

(With inputs from PTI)