Southampton — It took Roddy Estwick, West Indies’ assistant coach, to put the AB de Villiers affair into perspective in Southampton on Sunday.
"We haven’t been talking about it at all. We can’t focus on people who aren’t here."
Estwick spoke the day before the World Cup match between SA Africa and West Indies at the Rose Bowl, a match both sides will be under pressure to win.
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The Windies have one win from two matches, while SA have lost all three of their games. The latter’s plight intensified on Thursday, when it emerged that the retired De Villiers had made an offer to return hours before the squad was announced.
But De Villiers had rendered himself ineligible by not playing in SA’s home series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in January and March, choosing to play in T20 leagues in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the selectors rejected his proposition.
De Villiers’ supporters argue his inclusion would have boosted SA’s shaky batting, which will be tested by West Indies’ potent pace attack.
Andre Russell is among the top 10 bowlers in the tournament in terms of average, economy rate and strike rate, while only New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham and Australian Mitchell Starc have delivered a better performance than the 4/27 Oshane Thomas took to help dismiss Pakistan for 105 at Trent Bridge on May 31.
SA planned to send Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortjé into the fray. But Nortjé broke a thumb before the tournament and did not make the trip, Steyn went home without playing a game with a shoulder injury, Ngidi left the field with a hamstring problem after bowling four overs against Bangladesh and missed the match against India. He is doubtful for Monday’s clash.
Rabada is thus SA’s last fast man standing. Was he envious of the firepower West Indies would bring to the match?
"I wouldn’t say it’s jealousy," Rabada said. "We have to deal with what we have. We’ve had quite a few problems concerning injury so we are going to have to work around it."
India beat Australia by 36 runs at the Oval on Sunday as the reigning champions suffered their first defeat of the 2019 World Cup. Shikhar Dhawan’s 117 was the cornerstone of India’s imposing total of 352/5 which featured major contributions from captain Virat Kohli (82) and Rohit Sharma (57).
Australia then struggled to keep up with the required rate in the face of tight bowling despite fifties from David Warner, Steve Smith and Alex Carey.