After South Africa’s disastrous start to the World Cup, reports emerged of De Villiers had offered to come back to the team on the eve of the World Cup squad selection – if the team needed him.
Captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson, along with the management, decided to go with the existing group of players. However, after the story of the late offer leaked, Gibson expressed his frustration at the distraction created by the news and even said that if De Villiers truly wanted to be at the World Cup, “he would be here”.
Earlier this week, De Villiers finally broke his silence and posted his side of the story on social media, insisting he made no demands and did not try to force his way into the team.
Coming to his support, his Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Kohli backed the commitment and honesty of AB.
“My brother you are the most honest and committed man I know. It’s been unfortunate to see this happen to you. But know that we stand with you and believe in you. Seeing people enter your personal space has been sad to see and uncalled for. More love and power to you and your beautiful family. Me and (wife) Anushka are always here for you guys,” Kohli said, while replying to De Villiers’ post.
Retired star Yuvraj also put his weight behind De Villiers, stating: “It is your country’s loss not to have you in the squad. The bigger the player more the criticism. We all know what a gentleman you are.”
Jason Roy credits “a kick up the arse” on England’s last visit to Lord’s for giving them the boost they needed to reach the World Cup final in peak form.
England will step out at the most famous cricket ground in the world on Sunday as favourites to lift the trophy for the first time against a New Zealand side also looking to make history.
Things looked considerably different the last time they were in St John’s Wood, pushed to the brink of a group-stage elimination by a 64-run loss to Australia.
Jolted by that result England tapped into a do-or-die mentality – confidently beating both the Black Caps and India to seal their knockout place, then exacting revenge against their Ashes rivals with a resounding semi-final win at Edgbaston.
“We didn’t get too down or upset but it was obviously a little kick up the arse,” said Roy, whose brilliant form with the bat has underpinned the upturn in form.
“It gave us a good kick and pushed us to actually bring out the best in ourselves I think, and that stands us in good stead for the final.
“We’re in a very good place with our cricket, and like we’ve shown in the last few games we’re doing pretty well. Do the right things tomorrow from the start, and hopefully we’ll get the benefits.”
Roy was blameless for England’s wobble, missing their back-to-back defeats with a torn hamstring. He has passed 50 in six of his seven innings, including a punishing 153 against Bangladesh, and his semi-final knock of 85 was on course to be his best yet until he was bafflingly given caught behind by Kumar Dharmasena.
Roy’s furious reaction saw him disciplined and fined for breaching the ICC’s disciplinary code and he faces an awkward reunion with the Sri Lankan official, who will stand alongside South Africa’s Marais Erasmus at Lord’s.
“It’s professional sport, emotions run high,” the 28-year-old explained.
“There was a lot of passion. The last few years have been a lot of hard work to get where I’ve got now. So to get out like that was slightly disappointing, and I probably showed it more than I should have. But you ride the wave and we’re in the final now.”
Roy’s fearless approach and muscular style – he hit three consecutive sixes off Steve Smith at Edgbaston, one of which was the biggest ever struck in international at the ground – make him a natural poster boy for the team.
An elevated profile surely awaits if he can contribute to one more winning cause, but that wider celebrity is little more than window dressing to the task at hand.
“It doesn’t matter what the outside noise is saying, the white noise as we call it. We’ve just got to go out and perform,” he said.
“It’s nothing to do with the status. We just want to win the World Cup for the nation and inspire the next generation.”
Australia captain Aaron Finch generated some unintended amusement when he revealed he planned to prepare for the semi-final against England by watching animated children’s movie The Queen’s Corgi, and Roy has been warned off by his Surrey team-mate.
“Apparently that doesn’t work. Finchy doesn’t recommend that one,” he said with a smile. “I’ll just eat my porridge and crack on.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
History is set to be created at Lord’s on Sunday with a maiden ICC World Cup trophy up for grabs for either England or New Zealand.
Both teams notched impressive wins in their respective semi-final clashes after enduring similar campaigns in the round-robin phase where they lost three matches apiece.
While England were favourites for the title before the tournament began, the Black Caps have shown that they are no pushovers and can beat any team on their day.
The margins between a win and a loss on Sunday could be as fine as they get and the final outcome could very well come down to a few key moments.
Here, we look at three key battles that could be decisive at Lord’s.
Jason Roy vs Trent Boult
England’s openers have been in sensational form in the tournament and dislodging them early will be key for the Kiwis if they are to combat a batting unit that goes deep.
Jason Roy has been stellar with the bat throughout the campaign and his injury absence was felt dearly by the hosts when they suffered a shock defeat to Sri Lanka. Since returning from injury, Roy has already smashed three explosive fifties on the trot and is looking in prime touch for Sunday.
Only once in the tournament has the opener been dismissed for a score below 50 and the Kiwis will be wary of that ominous form. They will look to their pace spearhead in Trent Boult to stop Roy in his tracks and the left-armed bowler is more than capable of causing mayhem should there be any swing in the air.
Boult was phenomenal in the semi-final win over India and has picked up a total of 17 wickets in the tournament while maintaining an economy-rate of just 4.61.
Joe Root v Mitchell Santner
While there are plenty of big hitters in the England outfit, it is the classical Joe Root who remains the team’s batting linchpin. The right-hander has been in sublime touch in the World Cup with 549 runs to his name at an average of nearly 69.
Root will be crucial for England in the middle-overs with his effortless rotation of the strike and he possesses the ability to bring up a run-a-ball century without hitting a shot in anger. He is the foundation around which the hosts like to build around and New Zealand will be desperate to not allow him to get his way.
Mitchell Santner has picked up just six wickets in the tournament so far but he has still been extremely difficult to get away for most batsmen. The left-arm orthodox spinner has kept things really tight with excellent lines and subtle variations of his pace.
If Santner can build up the pressure again on Sunday, it could force Root to attack the other strike bowlers and that could play into New Zealand’s hands.
Jofra Archer v kane Williamson
Such has been the poor form of New Zealand’s openers that Kane Williamson has found himself arriving at the crease inside five overs for the most part.
The Kiwis skipper has been the glue that has held a patchy batting unit together throughout the tournament with some terrific individual displays and he will be the prize wicket for England on Sunday.
Williamson is averaging more than 91 with the bat in the ongoing World Cup and has scored nearly 30 per cent of his team’s total runs. Hence, the hosts will want his wicket early and are certain to unleash Jofra Archer at him at some stage.
The Barbados-born pacer has broken more helmets in the tournament than any other bowler with his express pace and steep bounce while also picking up 19 wickets along the way. Williamson’s supreme technique and focus will be difficult to shake off but if there is anyone who can rattle the Black Caps skipper, it is Archer.