Du Plessis wanted De Villiers return on eve of CWC
Cricket South Africa (CSA) has revealed captain Faf du Plessis backed retired star AB de Villiers' late bid to be included in the Proteas' Cricket World Cup squad.
De Villiers retired from international cricket last year but reports emerged this week that he had attempted to return for the ongoing World Cup in England but was turned away.
The 35-year-old was not included in the squad and South Africa have subsequently lost their opening three matches, as well as suffering several early injury problems.
Chief selector Linda Zondi has now confirmed CSA's decision, explaining that De Villiers was not considered due to his absence from prior ODI matches.
However, Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson were both keen to have De Villiers back, according to Zondi, who insists he does not regret the call.
"I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018," Zondi said in a statement.
"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 18 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."
De Villiers was quick to turn attention to on-field matters with South Africa struggling to stay in the World Cup.
He tweeted on Thursday: "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."
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— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) June 6, 2019