AB de Villiers is considered to be one of the greatest batsman of the new millennium. He is the scorer of the fastest century in ODIs and has scored close to 20000 runs in international cricket. He is one of the rare players who has succeeded equally in all formats of the game.
Apart from possessing extraordinary skills on the park, Ab de Villiers has also been regarded as a true sportsman and a gentleman. While he’s been ruthless with the bat in his hand, he hardly lost his cool and usually was always calm and collected even in the face of adversity.
Controversies on and off the pitch are common in all sports especially cricket. And even with his demeanor, de Villiers hasn’t been able to steer clear of such controversies. Some of them emerged due to de Villiers background of being a white South African while some were purely due to Villiers getting caught in the eye of the social media storm.
Here we have a look at 5 major controversies in Ab de Villiers’ illustrious career: –
1. 2015 World Cup Semi Final fiasco
South Africa is a country which has had a long and painful history in regards to racism. Apartheid racism was long-standing discrimination against men of colour by white men. However, apartheid was abolished in 1994 after efforts and struggle of great men like Nelson Mandela. The after-effects of the racial abuse, however, has carried on and has spilled onto South African sport including cricket as well.
The South African cricket team has had to maintain a reasonable balance to include a certain number of players from the black as well mixed races. This rule acted as a massive distraction during South Africa’s 2015 World Cup campaign and wasn’t received well by Ab de Villiers, the then captain. South Africa was having a successful campaign and once again the expectations from them were sky high.
However, against New Zealand, for their semi-final match, South Africa made a change which seemed out of place for many. Kyle Abbott, South Africa’s speedster, who had picked up 9 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 14.4 and had been very successful was dropped and Vernon Philander, who was coming back from injury and had picked just 4 wickets in 3 prior games, was selected.
Philander had a horrid game giving away 52 runs in 8 overs without picking up a wicket. This decision got de Villiers a lot of flak and was a major point of controversy at that time. It was in his autobiography a year later in 2016 when de Villiers described that he had in fact been informed by the cricket board that Philander had passed the fitness test and had to be played ahead of Abbott.
De Villiers expressed his disappointment by saying, “It depressed me to think of my team-mates in these outdated racial terms,” “Would anyone really mind if there were three or four players of colour in our side?” This revelation created a bigger controversy and drew attention back to South Africa’s racial problems.
2. Khaya Zondo-Dean Elgar Saga
De Villiers was again caught on the wrong side of the racial system when a recent revelation came out about Khaya Zondo, a black South African batsman, who was due to make his debut in the 2015 series against India. Khaya Zondo was supposed to be play the 5th ODI and even had his name on the team sheet. However, less than a day prior to the match, Dean Elgar, who had played just 5 ODIs earlier was flown in from South Africa.
It had come to light that de Villiers did not want Zondo in the playing 11 and even threatened to walk out of the rest of the series. While de Villiers claimed that he was dropped due to ‘cricketing reasons, former Cricket South Africa (CSA) President Norman Arendse’s report into the incident said that Zondo’s name had been on the team sheet on the night before the 5th ODI in Mumbai, and that his removal from the XI hours before what would have been his debut was unfair and contrary to the CSA selection.
After the 2015 series a group of cricketers calling themselves ‘Black Players in Unity’ had written a letter to the South African cricket board highlighting Zondo’s role in the 2015 series. They argued that black cricketers were being taken into the squad to adhere to South Africa’s racial transformation policy but that they were being seen as ‘water carriers’. After this recent revelation a number of players of color like Ashwell Prince and Makhaya Ntini came out to spell out their brushes with discrimination as well.
3. Off-season controversy
Social media, while having its positives can sometimes became nasty as well, especially for the celebrities. AB de Villiers found himself in a spot of bother as well when he was mercilessly trolled on Twitter for a comment which he had probably said in jest but was in bad taste. During the 2018 IPL season, De Villiers had appeared in a AIB video, a then popular YouTube channel along with Virat Kohli and Yuzvendra Chahal. It was mainly a free-wheeling and fun chat which the players indulged in.
Tanmay Bhatt and Gursimran Khamba, the hosts then went on to ask Virat Kohli as to why Team India played Sri Lanka so often. To this the three players had quite a laugh and de Villiers said “That’s become the off-season.” Virat replied, “Ya we count it like off-season because there’s no time difference either, its like half an hour.” AB further added, “And you never lose to them. So it’s off-season.”
This statement came back to bite de Villiers a couple of months later when South Africa were touring Sri Lanka and on a difficult pitch the South African team was bowled out for 126 which left them with a deficit of 160 runs after Sri Lanka had scored 287 in their first innings. After a placard held by two fans in the stadium which said “OFF SEASON AB PLEASE COME” went viral several Sri Lankan fans took to twitter to troll de Villiers about the statement he had made.
4. Indian flag-Wine Brand controversy
The Sri Lankan fans aren’t the only ones whose wrath de Villiers had to face. While de Villiers is loved all over the world, there is hardly any country where he’s received as much praise and affection as India. Be it while playing for RCB or even his national team, wherever de Villiers has gone in India he has always been supported tremendously. But an incident which occurred in 2018, perhaps had him lose a few fans. India is a very passionate country.
And as much as they love their cricket, patriotism and love for the country is also something each Indian is committed towards. De Villiers discovered this in a hard way when he posted a promotional Instagram post in 2018 of a wine company starting business in New Delhi. The ad showed a wine bottle on the roof of an auto, with the tagline ‘Eagle has landed’. That did not initiate any backlash.
The problem was the fact that there was a picture of the Indian flag at the bottom right of the creative. This got the blood of a number of Indians boiling and they let de Villiers know what they felt. Following were some tweets- “vk18wyatt28.club-There is a player in south African team name hashim amla who pay 50%of his match fee as a fine for not promoting alcohol brand on his tee and now there is another who promote it. @abdevilliers17 @hashamla”. “pridhviraj.d-Don’t misuse national flag. We are not ready to buy your product until you realized our pride…”
5. World Cup selection saga
De Villiers had announced his retirement from international in May 2018 to the shock of cricket fans across the world. While de Villiers had been marred with injuries for a couple of years prior to that, and had been picking and choosing the matches he wanted to play for his national team, it was expected that he would surely take part in the world cup which was just a year later. In a video posted on Twitter, de Villiers had called time on his 14-year international career with immediate effect, stating that he was “tired” and “running out of gas”.
However, in a remarkable turn of events it was revealed that de Villiers had actually approached South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis, head coach Otis Gibson and convener of selectors Linda Zondi, a day before the squad for South Africa’s world cup campaign was to be announced expressing his desire to reverse his retirement, but was told that this would not be possible. This revelation came after South Africa’s 3 consecutive losses in the World Cup following which calls for return of AB had started coming in from fans.
It was felt that by the decision makers that a recall for de Villiers would have been unfair on the players who have been performing in his absence, such as Rassie van der Dussen. While he was criticised for thinking he could make it to the team at such notice, AB released an elaborate clarification after South Africa’ s 2019 World Cup campaign had ended saying, “ 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. Eventually, the matter died down but it was a major controversy which questioned the ethics of ABD.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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