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AB de Villiers says South Africa retirement is ‘final’

CAPE TOWN (Agencies): South African batting star AB de Villiers has ruled out any chance of an international comeback, according to a statement issued by Cricket South Africa on Tuesday.

Announcing the South African squads for a tour of the West Indies next month and Ireland in July, CSA stated: “Discussions with AB de Villiers have concluded with the batsman deciding, once and for all, that his retirement will remain final.” There had been speculation that De Villiers, who retired from international cricket in 2018, would return in time to play in the T20 World Cup, scheduled for India in October and November.

South African head coach Mark Boucher, a long-time Proteas team-mate of De Villiers, said on several occasions over the past year that he was involved in discussions with De Villiers and the player himself indicated during the recent Indian Premier League that he was keen to return.

De Villiers, 37, 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 caused the tournament to be halted. He scored 207 runs at an average of 51.75 with an outstanding strike rate of 164.28. Tuesday’s statement gave no further details of events or discussions that led to De Villiers’ decision.

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.”

In keeping with the trend of selecting large squads because of the need for them to train and play in bio-secure environments, South Africa named 19 players for two Test matches to be played in St Lucia and 20 players for five T20 internationals in Grenada.

Four specialist spin bowlers were picked in the Test squad, including uncapped off-spinner Prenelan Subrayen. “The Caribbean is known for its low and slow wickets and we have chosen the personnel needed for every eventuality,” said Mpitsang.

The Test series will be the first since opening batsman Dean Elgar was named full-time Test captain as Du Plessis’s successor. Temba Bavuma will captain the T20 squad. He was named white-ball captain ahead of one-day and T20 series against Pakistan in April but missed the T20 matches because of injury.

Test squad: Dean Elgar (capt), Temba Bavuma (vice-capt), Quinton de Kock (wkt), Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, Marco Jansen, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Peterson, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Prenelan Subrayen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams

T20 squad: Temba Bavuma (capt), Quinton de Kock (wkt), Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.