Zondo presented his testimony to the Office of the Transformation Ombudsman privately on 22 July, and requested it to be made public on Friday.
South African batter Khaya Zondo revealed during the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings that he lost all respect for AB de Villiers, after he blocked his selection during South Africa’s tour of India in 2015 for the decider of the One-Day International series during October.
Zondo’s exclusion and the management’s decision to prefer Dean Elgar over him led to a dramatic movement in the Proteas national team, with a group of black players writing a letter to Cricket South Africa, expressing concern and displeasure over how they were found qualified enough to be selected for the national team, but not enough to feature in the XI.
Zondo was a part of the India tour, and with the series levelled 2-2, he was left out of the decider in Mumbai, while Elgar, who had flown in to be part of the Test squad which played a series that followed the One-Dayers, was chosen ahead of him.
I could not believe AB de Villiers was trying to justify my exclusion: Khaya Zondo
“The captain (de Villiers) called me over to the side, away from the rest of the team and mentioned to me he was the one who felt I should not play. He was trying to explain himself and he was taking full responsibility for the decision,” Zondo read from his prepared submission to the Transformation Ombudsman, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza.
“I remember in the moment of him explaining himself to me, losing all respect for him as a captain, and as someone I looked up to as a cricketing hero of mine because I could not believe this guy was trying to justify himself to me, and it came across as if I should accept this decision because the decision came from him.”
“I switched off mentally for the rest of the day and I detached myself from the team because it was clear I was not wanted,” Zondo said. “Switching off helped me cope with everything that was happening. The hardest part was watching the players who were selected ahead of me playing and having the opportunity to shine for South Africa on a world stage, in India and having a chance to play and potentially impress and get future IPL opportunities.”
Maybe I should have stood firm: Former national selector Hussein Manack
Zondo presented his testimony to the Office of the Transformation Ombudsman privately on 22 July and requested it be made public on Friday, a day after Former national selector Hussein Manack testified about the incident. Manack admitted that he regrets not backing Zondo back then. “I look back and I feel I gave in to the captain (AB de Villiers), and maybe I should have stood firm,” Manack told the SJN on Thursday.
“The captain was extremely adamant that he didn’t want Khaya in the team,” said Manack. “I just felt the fall out of me standing my ground at that stage, would have, I think, made things worse for the team and made things worse for Khaya, because if he played, after I’d insisted he played, and he didn’t score runs and the team lost, I think he would have been blamed for it. So, all those things were going through my mind. I still look back at the moment and think; should I have been stronger? Should I have stood my ground?”
Manack revealed his conversation with de Villiers, who felt that Zondo’s nil experience at the international level might lead him to fall under pressure in front of a huge crowd in a high-stake decider. De Villiers, as per Manack, wanted to have an out of form David Miller in the team owing to his experience at both international and IPL level. Earlier in the fourth match when JP Duminy injured himself, the selectors and management roped in Dean Elgar as a like-for-like replacement, sidelining Zondo.
The SJN hearings will resume on August 23.