Says de Villiers’ decision “unfortunate” since he remains one of the best T20 players in the world
Mark Boucher, the head coach of the South Africa men’s side, has revealed that AB de Villiers was not comfortable returning to the national squad in place of a player already in the system, effectively taking that spot. A day after de Villiers told CSA “once and for all, that his retirement will remain final“, Boucher said that while he “understood” the player’s concerns, the decision to not come out of retirement was “unfortunate”.
“AB has his reasons, which I respect,” Boucher was quoted as saying in The Citizen. “Unfortunately he’s no longer in the mix. I say unfortunately because I think we all agree that he’s still one of the best – if not the best – T20 players in world cricket.
“But he alluded to being concerned about coming in ahead of other players who have been a part of the system. I don’t think it sat well with him, which I understand. But as a coach, I needed to try and get our best players, for the team and the environment. AB is an energy booster in any environment, but I respect his reasoning. It was worth a go, but now let’s move forward.”
de Villiers retired from international cricket in May 2018, but there have been suggestions in recent times that he could stage a comeback for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Prior to that, too, as reported by ESPNcricinfo, de Villiers had sought a recall to the national team for the 2019 50-over World Cup, but that was turned down by the South Africa team management. Now, however, that chapter appears to have closed.
South Africa announced a 19-man white-ball squad for a tour of the West Indies, and a 20-man squad (with Keshav Maharaj added) for the tour of Ireland that will follow, with these games assuming great importance ahead of the World Cup for a team that has won just five of their 19 matches in the last two years.
Bangladesh unhappy as Australia’s Covid-19 demands force Mushfiqur Rahim to miss home T20Is
According to the terms agreed to between the two boards, the senior batter can’t enter the Dhaka bio-bubble now
“It is unfair what happened with Mushfiq,” a member of Bangladesh’s tour party to Zimbabwe, told ESPNcricinfo. “We came in a commercial flight passing through three airports so I don’t know if it makes much sense to keep Mushfiq out of the series. He went back home from the middle of a tour for a family problem. So to not allow him to enter the quarantine after just two or three days, is not right.”
The BCB says it did ask CA to reconsider the stance on Rahim, but to no avail.
“The agreement between CA and BCB says that there is no chance for allowing anyone from outside into the bio-bubble,” a BCB official said. “We have to hold the series with only those inside the bio-bubble. There will be challenges but this is the new normal. I think the selectors have picked the players who are best available during this scenario. There are no alternatives but to take our best available options.”
The quarantine rules could also have an impact on the use of DRS during the series. DRS technicians sit in the same room generally with match officials but the latter have been in a ten-day quarantine period and anyone coming in from the outside – such as a DRS technician – will not be able to sit in the same room according to protocols.
“We have fulfilled the requirements for the production team. We are ready,” a BCB official said. “If the technician can work from a remote location, we will have DRS. There still remain some challenges but the technical person still has time (to be involved in the series).
“He has to comply with a three-day quarantine (according to local health directorate), but CA has a condition that whoever isn’t part of the ten-day quarantine, they can’t get into close contact with anyone who was in the quarantine. If this person can manage to do the work remotely, then we can have DRS in the playing conditions.”
The issues highlight the challenges the BCB faced for this series, in setting up two separate quarantines for match officials, hotel staff, and logistics, liaison and ground staff; the BCB has also made sure that the Australians can go to the team hotel from the airport tarmac directly. Their immigration will be processed separately, and their passports returned only after being sanitised for three days. The hotel will also be off-limits to anyone but the touring party till August 10.
The BCB had earlier agreed to hold all the five matches at the Shere Bangla National Stadium instead of at two venues.
“It is not just about CA giving us conditions and us accepting those conditions,” a board official said. “The Australia team is traveling here on a chartered flight from West Indies. It shows how serious they are about the health and welfare of players. We are only fulfilling some of their additional requirements.”
Despite all that, concern will remain. Bangladesh is currently experiencing a fresh Covid-19 wave, and the country has been in a strict lockdown. There were 258 deaths and 14,925 new cases the day before Australia’s arrival in Dhaka on Thursday. Pulling off the series without incident will be important for the BCB’s home season ahead, given New Zealand are expected to arrive in early September to play five T20Is before England travel for three T20Is and the same number of ODIs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
SL vs IND, 2nd T20I, 2021
He trusted his lower-order team-mates to play big shots if he took the game deep
Not known for his hitting capability, the match situation was perhaps made for de Silva, who struck only two boundaries – a six and a four – and focused instead on running singles and twos. With a severely depleted India making only 132, Sri Lanka did not require huge fireworks with the bat to chase it down.
“This is what I’m meant to do for the team,” de Silva said after the match. “In the previous match as well, what I’d been told was to bat 20 overs from one side. I wasn’t able to do that in the previous game. Today was my day and I did that. If I can bat at a run-a-ball until the final overs, letting others attack around me, I can raise my strike rate towards the finish as well. That was the coach, captain and selectors’ plan.”
de Silva said the surface for this match was the slowest of the tour. It took a significant turn right through the game, with spinners picking up seven of the 11 wickets to fall. Only three sixes were struck in the entire match.
“We knew it was a slow pitch, so our target while bowling was to restrict them to 125 or 130,” he said. “Our bowlers did well and we were able to manage that. When it came to our innings, we knew that it would be tough to bat as well, but if we dragged the game out to the 20th over, the equation becomes simple and we know what we have to do. I think even a T20 match, that’s the way to do it.”
“We know that in the last four or five batters we have a few that can hit a six. Chamika, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana and even Dushmantha Chameera can hit a big shot. What I’d wanted to do was to take the game deep, thinking that Wanindu or Chamika would be there with me to finish it off. Thankfully, Chamika was there at the end.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
The Hundred – Jofra Archer not expected to link up with Southern Brave this week
Team hopeful of having the pacer for the last four games as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery
Archer has played twice for Sussex in the last 10 days, first bowling three overs in their Vitality Blast win against Kent and a further six against Oxfordshire in a 50-over warm-up match last Tuesday, but has not linked up with the Southern Brave squad since the start of the Hundred and is not expected to do so this week.
“It’s one of those where I’m staying out of it and leaving it to the experts in that area. Hopefully we do get him because it would be a big boost for us, but if we don’t, we’ve got guys who are capable here.”
An ECB spokesperson said that a further update on Archer’s fitness was expected next week but did not confirm whether he had been given a pain-killing injection in the last two days. Archer underwent elbow surgery in May following an aborted comeback from the injury at the start of the English summer.
The Brave were the pre-tournament favourites for the men’s competition but have lost both of their first two games and are already in danger of missing out on the knockout stages, with only the top three teams progressing. Mahela Jayawardene, their head coach, has regularly recovered from sluggish starts while coaching Mumbai Indians in the IPL, and Vince suggested that his recent experience with Hampshire – who squeezed into the Blast’s quarter-finals in the final round of group games – meant he was not panicking yet.
“I’m sure we’ll realise that we need to start winning soon but I’ve just been part of a Hampshire side in the Blast that got off to a bit of a slow start and then managed to play some great cricket towards the back end and get some momentum going,” he said. “I think this format will be very similar.
“We’re aware we need to improve in a few areas but we were much better [on Tuesday] and had our chance to win the game. The next three or four games coming up will be important to make sure we’re there or thereabouts come the last few.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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