Questions over AB’s surprise England move
Lorgat seemingly caught off-guard by batsman’s withdrawal from series
A week is a long time in politics, but not nearly as long as 24 hours in cricket — particularly not if the cricketer in question is AB de Villiers.
On Tuesday, minutes after De Villiers had confirmed he would be unavailable for SA’s test series in New Zealand in March, Haroon Lorgat was asked what the chances were of De Villiers playing in the tests in England in July and August.
"What we are doing and what we have tended to do is to take it a series at a time," Cricket SA’s CE said. "I’m confident that by the time we look at England and the Champions Trophy, he’ll be fully fit, raring to go.
"His appetite will have returned, because then it would be a fair amount of time that he would have had.
"I know family circumstances change people — having children and being at home for a while will make him very relaxed. But I’m confident that England is the type of series he will want to be involved in."
On Wednesday, De Villiers shattered that confidence by saying that he had taken his name out of the hat for the England series.
It is difficult to know what to believe: that De Villiers did not tell Lorgat, his boss, of his plans before he told the media, or that his boss did not tell the media what he already knew.
But Lorgat would surely not say something he knew would be contradicted, and that would make him seem out of touch with important figures in the organisation that he heads.
This discrepancy will not sit easily with cricket-minded South Africans coming so soon after Kyle Abbott’s signing of a Kolpak deal was exposed just days after he had led the nation to believe that he was committed to a cause greater than filling his grocery cupboard.
Tuesday morning’s event at the Wanderers, ostensibly the launch of the Pink Drive, Cricket SA’s annual effort to heighten breast cancer awareness, was carefully stage managed.
The only questions De Villiers answered were softballs tossed gently underarm by an easygoing programme director.
Not to worry, assembled reporters who had more relevant questions and wanted more relevant answers were told: there would be opportunities to ask them later.
But when later arrived, the media were told De Villiers had left to fulfil an earlier engagement at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, his alma mater, because the launch had run over time, which it had, thanks to the late arrival of government officials, who prolonged proceedings further by rambling through speeches so ill-prepared, they insulted their audience.
De Villiers would, however, be available on Tuesday afternoon. Or so we were told.
That became Wednesday, when the whole truth finally came out.
At least, we hope De Villiers missing the England Tests — and two against Bangladesh at home in September and October, but those don’t matter nearly as much — is the whole truth.
Because who knows what Thursday will bring?
De Villiers apologised to the media on Wednesday for his performance on Tuesday, saying he "didn’t have the opportunity to come across as well as I would have wanted to because there was a presenter and I wasn’t able to give you guys what you wanted".
Thanks, AB. Your apology is accepted.
But what are you going to tell Lorgat?