Cape Town - You want chaos?
It seems the Proteas, in conjunction with Cricket South Africa and one of their most prized former playing assets, will give you chaos ... even if you already had a healthy suspicion of it through the nought-from-three World Cup performance thus far.
The bombshell after the Indian defeat at the Rose Bowl that their supposedly retired CWC 2015 captain and still the country’s most marketable batting figure, AB de Villiers, made himself available at the eleventh hour for selection to this year’s tournament squad includes the most intriguing of aftershocks.
That main revelation was earth-shattering enough. But nuggets of information - that term somehow appears too complimentary? – in Thursday’s subsequent statement from national selection chief Linda Zondi simply kept the ball rolling with some earnest on the topic.
Zondi revealed that current captain Faf du Plessis and head coach Ottis Gibson shared (to the panel) De Villiers’s desire to be included “on the day we announced our squad on April 18” ... (it was) “a shock to us”.
Oh, you bet it was!
It begs the succulent question of what amount of time passed between De Villiers - Du Plessis’s old schoolmate and friend - informing the pair of his wishes and their own passing on of that knowledge to the selectors on their D-Day, known reasonably well beforehand, in team revelation.
Would De Villiers, for instance, really have been so naïve, and arguably self-important if so, as to think he could make the cut on the very day (or even a handful of days before) the 15-strong party was announced with customary, televised fanfare?
Considering the unusual levels of global popularity the 35-year-old superstar commands, including no lack of adulation in the country of his birth, the transparency of CSA and the player himself - not averse to making major career-based statements through his own social media methods rather than before assembled media - warrants critical scrutiny.
After all, a “will he or won’t he?” sort of debate predictably raged for many months ahead of CWC 2019, even if largely driven by the desperation of his fan base to see him dramatically return for the tournament despite his stated insistence that he had retired from all international formats (after the 2017/18 summer).
It is a terrible shame, of course, that De Villiers was not available to bolster the Proteas’ cause at the tournament they have long been so jinxed at ... the void he left has only been made to look doubly painful in the last week or so.
But in CSA’s defence, they had always made it pretty clear, and with powerful justification, that if he wished to qualify for selection, he would need to turn out in the home ODI series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka (he didn’t).
This “comeback” curveball, nevertheless, is embarrassing and seems poorly-handled.
The tumult hardly makes it seem, sadly, as if the Proteas’ already so precarious CWC 2019 campaign is about to take any profound turn for the better.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing