AB de Villiers reportedly threatened to walk out of the South African national team during a 2015 series in India if batsman Khaya Zondo was selected, claimed a News 24 report on Thursday.
The South African news outlet quoted former Cricket South Africa (CSA) President Norman Arendse’s report into the incident, saying 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 policy.”
🔒Revealed for the first time, Adv Norman Arendse’s report into the saga:
⚫️ It “was unfair and was contrary to CSA Selection Policy”
⚫️ Zondo was selected in the XI the night before the 5th ODI vs India
+ AB called Haroon to intervene/take Zondo out.https://t.co/49mT861LSi
— #SbuSpecials (@Sbu_Mjikeliso) August 13, 2020
Dean Elgar had been flown in and played in the XI in place of the injured JP Duminy during this series, and Zondo, who had been an original part of the ODI squad, had been left out of the XI.
Before this call-up, Elgar had played just five ODIs and had not been considered for the previous 70 matches in the format.
After the tournament in 2015, 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’.
Arendse, a former CSA president and a legal advocate, had been made convener of a task team to address these grievances in 2016.
The Zondo-Elgar saga is often brought up in the discourse on the racial transformation target of the South African cricket team. Ashwell Prince, a former international cricketer, also brought up the issue of how Zondo was treated in a recent Twitter thread.
Literally every WC since, or poor series blamed on TRANSFORMATION, or otherwise translated if you like, “because we have to play with these people” 2016 in India, ZONDO selected by selectors, IN THE STARTING 11 ( I know, because I was a selector) Zondo doesn’t play? Why?
— Ashwell Prince (@ashyp_5) July 10, 2020
The South African cricket team had a troubled year in 2015. Following their defeat in the World Cup semifinal earlier that year, there were reports that AB de Villiers had been forced to play Vernon Philander in the XI instead of Kyle Abbott.
Writing in AB: The Autobiography, De Villiers wrote that he had been called a day before the semifinal and told to include Philander even though it had been “generally assumed” Abbott would play. He had questioned if that move had been motivated by “purely cricketing reasons”.