ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Two days ago, a popular cricket website reported that South African batting great AB de Villiers had sought to return to his national side before the World Cup.
The news had sparked controversy, clarifications and furore online, which has apparently not subsided.
On Friday, former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar seemingly added fuel to the fire by releasing a video blog criticising de Villiers for choosing “money over country”.
De Villiers announced his retirement from international cricket in May 2018, but has continued to play T-20 league cricket in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He was expected to make his debut in Australia's Big Bash League this year, but dropped out at the last minute.
Akhtar uploaded his video blog on YouTube and shared it via his Twitter handle. Speaking in Urdu, Akhtar noted the decision of de Villiers to retire from international cricket in 2018 but continue to playing T20 leagues in Pakistan and India. Akhtar declared “Everything (de Villiers's decisions) started with the finance. De Villiers made his decision based on the finance and economics”.
Akhtar criticised the logic that de Villiers wanted to return to the South African side before the World Cup as it was performing poorly. “South Africa were at the bottom (performing poorly) when de Villiers retired months ago,” he argued.
Akhtar declared he wanted to tell de Villiers, “Your nation comes first. Money will come later, but you left your nation for money”. Akhtar opined that at the time of his retirement, de Villiers had “two years of cricket left in him—the 2019 ODI World Cup and the T20 World Cup in 2020”.
Akhtar said he respected people's desire to make money, but asked that they “keep the country as the priority”. Using a Urdu phrase, Akhtar asked de Villiers to “be a man” and be clear about his priorities. Akhtar declared de Villiers attempting to return to the South African national team was a “gimmick” and said South Africa was down now because of him.
Akhtar revealed he had been offered “tons of millions of dollars” by the now-defunct Indian Cricket League, which was organised from 2007 to 2009. The (ICL) was a rebel league that did not have the approval of national cricket boards and died out due to restrictions on players. Several Pakistani cricketers, including batting star Inzammam ul Haq, had played the ICL.
Akhtar said the Pakistan Cricket Board had warned of banning players who played the ICL. Akhtar claimed he was approached by ICL to play in the league and “leave Pakistan”. Akhtar claimed he “bluntly” turned down the ICL offer.
Akhtar, who subsequently played in the first edition of the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008, said he signed up for the IPL for half the amount he was offered by the ICL, but cherished the love of fans in India.