AB de Villiers Image Credit: AFP

Johannesburg: South African selection convener Linda Zondi said on Thursday he was “shocked” when told that batting star AB de Villiers had made himself available for the World Cup.

Zondi said he was informed on the day of the squad announcement in April by captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson that de Villiers had said he was willing to come out of retirement.

Zondi said it would not have been morally right to include de Villiers. “I pleaded with AB de Villiers not to retire in 2018 ... I did give him the option to plan and monitor his season to get him to the World Cup fresh and in a good space,” said Zondi.

“He turned down the offer and said he was at peace with his decision to retire.”

Zondi said it would unfair to other players to accede to de Villiers’ belated request.

“The decision was based on principle; we had to be fair to the team, the selection panel, our franchise system and players.”

De Villiers surprised South African officials when he made an announcement on social media last year that he was retiring from international cricket following a successful comeback in a Test series against Australia.

“For Faf du Plessis and Ottis Gibson to share AB’s desire to be included in the squad on the day we announced our World Cup squad on April 18 was a shock to all of us,” said Zondi.

“At no point in the year that he had retired did he make himself available for selection. It was no option when I received the news on the day of the squad announcement, our squad was finalised and confirmed. AB is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, but above all else, we have to stay true to our morals and principles, there is no regret in the decision.”