Southampton – The Proteas - management and players - would have woken up in Southampton on Thursday morning desperate for a day out of the spotlight following the most disastrous of weeks. 

In seven days, South Africa have lost their first three World Cup matches and are a squad on the verge of total collapse. 

A day of rest, relaxation and self-reflection was in order, but instead the brains trust was greeted by a raging fire that came in the form of another AB de Villiers media bombshell. 

It has emerged that the 35-year-old superstar had a last-minute change of heart just 24 hours before the 2019 World Cup squad was announced back in April, and Cricket South Africa (CSA) selection chief Linda Zondi confirmed on Thursday that skipper Faf du Plessis had informed him on April 18 - the day the squad was announced - that De Villiers wanted to be included.

It is a simply staggering revelation at a time when South African cricket is at one of its lowest points and it leaves the group with one extra issue to worry about in the days leading up to a must-win clash against the West Indies in Southampton.

The South African machine is creaking, and this De Villiers media storm has come at the worst possible time.

Given South Africa's troubles in England, particularly in the top order, there is no doubting that De Villiers would have strengthened the squad. He is too good a player not to.  

Maybe it was the fact that he was surrounded by players at the IPL who were on their way to the World Cup or maybe it was a case of wanting to right the wrongs of 2015, but whatever the reason, De Villiers' actions are puzzling.

De Villiers retired in May last year and, as recently as November, said he had no regrets over his decision.

In guaranteeing the South African public that he would not be making a U-turn, De Villiers went as far as saying that a comeback and declaring himself available for the World Cup "would be very selfish and arrogant of me". 

That about sums it up, really.

If Zondi and the selectors did allow De Villiers back in at the last minute, Rassie van der Dussen would have likely stayed at home. 

In no world would that have been fair, given how hard Van der Dussen had worked both domestically and on the international stage to knuckle down his place. 

Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, Van der Dussen ... they all played in South Africa's One Day Cup in an effort to book a World Cup ticket while De Villiers was in Bangladesh and Pakistan headlining the world's T20 circuit.

By retiring, De Villiers ruled himself out of the World Cup and that, frankly, should have been that.

We don't know De Villiers' mental state in the days and weeks leading up to the squad announcement, but wanting to jump on board just as the ship was leaving shore comes across as selfish and fickle. 

No one player can ever be bigger than the team, and Zondi and CSA made that very clear by denying De Villiers his World Cup swansong. It is a decision that must be applauded.

As a previous World Cup captain, De Villiers should be aware of the pressures that come with preparing for the tournament. He should have respected that process, respected his own decision and removed himself from the equation completely, the way he said he would. 

Instead, he placed unnecessary pressure on life-long friend Du Plessis by putting him in the most uncomfortable of situations instead of offering him an unwavering support.

And now that the news is out, De Villiers' actions have hurt Du Plessis and the Proteas in the middle of a World Cup crisis and when it matters most.

Somehow, even when he is not involved, this South African World Cup charge has become about De Villiers and that would not have happened had he honoured his commitment to stay away. 

It is a head-scratching moment that leaves the bitterest of tastes in the mouth, and South African cricket does not need any of those during these dark times.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...