Former South African captain AB de Villiers has refuted allegations suggesting he asked for Kagiso Rabada to be dropped from the team, along racial lines, at the start of the pacer’s career.
Responding to testimony given by former national selector Hussein Manack at Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings, AB de Villiers said that his inputs into the selection were in “the best interests of the team.”
AB de Villiers, speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, clarified that he never wanted Kagiso Rabada to be dropped. He added that it would be ridiculous to do something like that, given that the 26-year-old bowler is one of the best in the business.
“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,” said AB de Villiers.
Hussein Manack’s allegation against AB de Villiers regarding Kagiso Rabada
This is the first time Kagiso Rabada’s case has been out in public. It centers around the Wanderers Test against England in 2015-16. Hussein Manack claimed the team management (when AB de Villiers was the captain) didn’t want Rabada to play in the game.
Elaborating on the incident, he said:
“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,” added the former selector.
“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,” claimed Manack.
Kagiso Rabada went on to pick up a five-wicket haul in that game, followed by a career-best 13/144 in the next game.