Speaking after the wash-out against West Indies on Monday, 10 June, du Plessis revealed that he and his former team-mate shared a phone call during this year’s Indian Premier League, where de Villiers told him what was on his mind.
“It was just a conversation, a phone call the night before the team got announced,” du Plessis clarified. “It was just a ‘this is what I’m feeling’ [phone call].
“I said to him, ‘I think it is too late but I will check in with the coach and the selectors the next morning.’ When I spoke to the coach and the selectors, they all agreed that it was way, way too late to change the team on 99.99.”
The news of de Villiers’ proposal broke out at a critical stage for South Africa, as they had lost their first three games at the World Cup. On Monday, they got their first point on the board courtesy the showers in Southampton.
When asked whether the de Villiers saga had impacted his side negatively or had a galvanizing effect, the Proteas skipper gave a candid response. “I think a little bit of both,” he admitted. “We do feel like the news came in and like went through the team. It didn’t have a huge impact.
“There was just a discussion on clarity and on making sure everyone knows what’s going on and then it was moving on. The team was happy to get on with business. But it is stuff like that generally you feel like it can make you, give you direction in your team and give you purpose to focus on what lies ahead.”
The 34-year-old, however, added that recent turn of events has not affected his bond with de Villiers. “AB and I are still friends,” he explained. “This incident has not changed that. This is a small thing for a friendship that goes so way back.”
South Africa play their next game against Afghanistan on Saturday, 15 June, in Cardiff.