Mark Boucher, the head coach of the South Africa men's side, has revealed that AB de Villiers was not comfortable returning to the national squad in place of a player already in the system, effectively taking that spot. A day after de Villiers told CSA "once and for all, that his retirement will remain final", Boucher said that while he "understood" the player's concerns, the decision to not come out of retirement was "unfortunate".
"AB has his reasons, which I respect," Boucher was quoted as saying in The Citizen. "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.
"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."
de Villiers retired from international cricket in May 2018, but there have been suggestions in recent times that he could stage a comeback for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Prior to that, too, as reported by ESPNcricinfo, de Villiers had sought a recall to the national team for the 2019 50-over World Cup, but that was turned down by the South Africa team management. Now, however, that chapter appears to have closed.
South Africa announced a 19-man white-ball squad for a tour of the West Indies, and a 20-man squad (with Keshav Maharaj added) for the tour of Ireland that will follow, with these games assuming great importance ahead of the World Cup for a team that has won just five of their 19 matches in the last two years.