Linda Zondi on why he turned down AB de Villiers when he wanted to return for the 2019 World Cup

Linda Zondi: South Africa’s then-chief selector says such a decision would have been “unethical to the players already selected”

The availability of AB de Villiers for the 2019 World Cup was brought to the attention of South Africa’s election official at the time.

Linda Zondi, two days before the team was announced but decline as it would have been unfair to the players already selecting.

Linda Zondi appeared before the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Committee for Social Justice and National Construction (SJN) to discuss various selections that were taking place under her supervision.

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In particular, Zondi got into the incident in which De Villiers had returns to the national team a year after leaving the international match.

“When AB took a break [in 2017], he didn’t share the information with me,” Zondi said. “I contacted him and said I wasn’t happy with what you have done and he apologized. Then there was the World Cup, which was a massive story. The captain [Faf du Plessis] came to me and said AB would like to be include in the World Cup. I turned it down because AB had earlier come to me and said he wanted to retire and I told him [then] we need you in the World Cup in England. If there are certain series you miss, we can work with that. I said I am happy to manage your time and you can retire after the World Cup. He said no, he wants to retire. Then, Faf came that AB wanted to return. I turned it down. I thought it was unethical to the players who were part of the squad.”

Zondi also touched on the case of Khaya Zondo, whose non-selection during hearings has become a central example of the complexity of selection in South Africa over the years.

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Former voter Hussein Manack already claimed in hearings that De Villiers blocked Zondo’s selection for an ODI against India.

“What happened on the day was, because I wasn’t there, the selector on tour became the final decision-maker,” Zondi said. “I’m glad Hussein came and confessed that he had pressure put on him. I was clear with him that I was very unhappy with the decision.”

Zondi said Manack called the selection panel the night before and they agreed that Zondo would play. “He contact us the night before saying JP is injured, so we will need a replacement. Secondly, we have David Miller who is not in form. The first thing we had to deal with was to fly in a replacement from South Africa. Because even if Khaya played, we still needed to have a backup.

“We said fine, it’s not a difficult situation, Khaya must play. Khaya had been to India. He was a batter, and the spot was in his position. He would not have been thrown in the deep end. It was a no-brainer. Khaya must play. It was made clear to Hussein that Khaya must play. In the morning, I turning on the TV and I saw Khaya was not playing.

Zondi also shared his experience with the exclusion of Thami Tsolekile from the test team in the 201314 seasons. Tsolekile signed nationally in 2012 and identified himself as the successor to Mark Boucher, but did not appear in series in England or Australia, as Villiers was the favorite.

Then-president Andrew Hudson told Tsolekile that he would play New Zealand in the next home series, but de Villiers decided to remain, goalkeeper, before Quinton de Kock made his debut in February 2014.

By now, Zondi had left. joined the selection panel and was part of the discussions about whether to play against Tsolekile or de Kock to debut.

When Alviro Petersen was injured against Australia. Zondi thought Tsolekile should play but was disallowing at 32.

The jury at the time consisted of Hudson, former international Shafiek Abrahams, Zondi, Manack, and national coach Russell Domingo.

Zondi and Manack voted for Tsolekile to play, while the other three voted against. Neither Hudson, who is currently on the CSA board nor Abrahams or Domingo is supposed to testify at the SJN.

Zondi stated that during his time in the national team he aimed to balance the objectives between ensuring the achievement of the Transformation Goals and keeping the South African team as a world-class team.

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