De Villiers sparks ugly Twitter spat

11 August 2017

Gibbs and de Villiers at the 2007 World Cup // Getty

Former teammates slam comments of Faf du Plessis as skipper says AB de Villiers is unlikely to return to Test cricket

AB de Villiers has been slammed by former teammates Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince for his continued absence from South Africa's Test side, with Gibbs all but accusing de Villiers of 'disrespecting the team and the game'.

Players past and present traded barbs in an ugly spat on Twitter, with former spinner Paul Harris and Simon Harmer also weighing in.

De Villiers announced in January that he would be taking a break from the Test arena to focus on one-dayers and T20s and his absence is still a major talking point in South African cricket, especially after the Proteas suffered a 3-1 series defeat in England.

After skipper Faf du Plessis said this week that de Villiers had "earned the right to do whatever he wants to" in regards to his playing future, Gibbs slammed the current captain for "putting a player on a pedestal!".

In a series of tweets, Gibbs compared de Villiers to legendary allrounder Jacques Kallis and said that "no one player bigger than the game".

De Villiers and du Plessis also found themselves in the firing line of Prince, the former Test batsman and national selector.

Prince also fired back at Harris and Harmer after they weighed in with their thoughts.

Du Plessis confirmed this week that while de Villiers had not officially retired from the five-day game, he was not expected back in the white clothing any time soon.

"The last time I spoke to him, he wasn’t keen to play yet again," Du Plessis said. "So from my point of view I’m not expecting him to come back.

"Whether we win or lose people always want AB to play, because he is the best player in the team.

De Villiers and Prince in happier times // Getty
De Villiers and Prince in happier times // Getty

"But we’ve played a year and a half without him. I hope that he comes back and plays, but I’m not expecting him to, and I’m preparing to look ahead without him.

"I need to try and get it out there that people must expect that it's probably not going to happen. We don’t want to lie about it. If he’s not coming back, then he’s not coming back, but I can't make that decision for AB.

"AB has earned the right to do whatever he wants to. He’s played 100 Tests, he’s played away from home from 12 years. He’s done everything he could possibly achieve, apart from winning the World Cup.

Du Plessis and de Villiers at the 2016 World T20 // Getty
Du Plessis and de Villiers at the 2016 World T20 // Getty

"He just wants to spend more time with his family. That's AB's only reason."

De Villiers has planned to discuss his future with Cricket South Africa this month to "make a final decision about what happens for the next few years".

The right-hander has scored 8074 runs in 106 Tests, including 21 centuries, at an average of 50.46.