South Africa's Faf du Plessis hits a shot that gets caught and he loses his wicket Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Former Proteas cricketer AB de Villiers has issued a statement Friday in response to the “unjustified criticism” of him during the tournament. He said he has waited until after the Proteas’ World Cup campaign is over so the team could not be distracted.

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis hits a shot that gets caught and he loses his wicket Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

During the dismal tournament – in which SA only won three of nine pool matches – friction was further fuelled when it was reported that De Villiers had told Captain Faf du Plessis that he was available to play. Critics accused De Villiers of being selfish and trying to force his way back into the team.

Today De Villiers said he never expected to be included in the world cup squad and was only repeating what he had already mentioned to a Cricket South Africa (CSA) official in May 2018 when he retired from international cricket.

De Villiers said in the statement:

I continue to be asked to comment on the disclosure, and distortion, of a private conversation that took place just before the squad was announced and, for the benefit of anyone who may have felt let down, would like to explain what happened.

First, I announced my retirement from international cricket in May 2018 because I wanted to reduce my workload and spend more time with my wife and young sons. Some have insisted I was motivated purely by money. They are wrong.

In truth, I have turned down many lucrative offers to play around the world, and have cut the time spent away from home each year from eight months to just over three months.

De Villiers said in the weeks and months that followed, there was no formal communication between him and CSA or the Proteas.

He then said:

Faf and I have been friends since we were at school together, and two days before the world cup squad was announced, I contacted him for a chat. I had been in decent form during the Indian Premier League and casually repeated what I had said when asked a year earlier, that I was available if required… but only if required.

I made absolutely no demands at all. I certainly did not try to force my way into the World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament and did not expect to be included. There was no burning issue from my side and no sense of injustice.

De Villiers said that “out of the blue, on the evening after the Proteas lost to India” in their third successive defeat, “elements of our private conversation were disclosed to the media, and distorted to cast me in the world possible light.”

The cricketer said:

The story was not leaked by me, or anybody associated with me, or by Faf. Maybe someone wanted to deflect criticism. I don’t know.

As a result, I was unfairly described as arrogant, selfish and indecisive but, with all humility, my conscience is clear. I am not angry with anybody.

De Villiers said at this stage in his life he would like to “continue spending time with my family and to play in selected T20 tournaments in SA and around the world…”

He emphasised that his “relationships with the Protea players remain as strong as ever” and that he will “always be available to support and assist the next generation”.