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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

SJN hearings: ‘I have never wanted KG dropped from any team at any time,’ says AB de Villiers


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His comments come in response to testimony given by ex-selector Hussein Manack on the lead-up to the Wanderers Test against England in 2015-16

AB de Villiers has denied asking for Kagiso Rabada to be dropped from the Test team at the start of Rabada’s career and said he only made inputs into selection in “the best interests of the team”. Responding to testimony given by former national selector Hussein Manack at Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings, de Villiers distanced himself from decisions that Manack alleged were made along racial lines.
Manack spent the bulk of his testimony discussing the well-known case of Khaya Zondo on the 2015 tour of India, where Zondo didn’t play a single game, and the role de Villiers’ played in that episode. But the Rabada case, centred around the Wanderers Test against England in 2015-16, has not been publicly aired before.
“I had been to the practice the day before and a decision had to be made between playing Kyle Abbott and Hardus Viljoen,” said Manack, who was selector then. “A discussion at practice took place and they [the team management] said we must drop KG [Rabada].

“I asked on what basis. Rabada was 20 years old and he hadn’t established himself as a great player but having seen him at the Lions, where he was coming through, I had seen a lot of him. He had a good enough reputation. There was a cricketing explanation that maybe the ball wasn’t coming out of his hand right. I took it back to [bowling coach] Charl Langeveldt and … Charl’s view was that he was comfortable and everybody on the selection panel was unanimous that Rabada had to play. I said our decision is that Rabada has to play. There was one more spot that had to be filled. We said between Abbott and Viljoen, you decide who you want. We don’t have a strong view either way. In the end, they went for Viljoen and they weren’t happy with the fact that we had stood our ground.”

Rabada claimed his first five-for in that match, and a career-best 13 for 144 in the next Test. Viljoen did not play for South Africa again.

de Villiers told ESPNcricinfo that he had not wanted Rabada dropped. “I have never wanted KG dropped from any team at any time,” he said. “The idea is ridiculous. He is one of the finest bowlers in world cricket.”

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