Cape Town – Former Proteas seamer Vernon Philander has opened up on the infamous selection debacle of the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.
In what would become one of the most controversial stories in South African Cricket World Cup history, Philander was selected to play the tournament semi-final against the hosts in Auckland while the in-form Kyle Abbott sat out.
Reports followed suggesting that political interference had shaped the decision, with then-CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat believed to have made the call after receiving his own instructions from above.
Clarity on exactly what transpired has never been given from anyone involved, but in an interview with Rapport over the weekend, Philander provided some perspective by admitting that there were issues going on behind closed doors at that tournament.
“I blatantly and openly told the coach (Russell Domingo) that the best player should play,” Philander said.
“He told me: ‘You are the best player for the day, you’re playing.’
“But they were clearly not open and honest with me and Kyle. There were definitely things going on behind closed doors.”
Philander added that while there was never any bad blood between himself and Abbott, what happened in the aftermath of the tournament impacted on both of them.
“When I’m in Durban, I’ll always have a beer with Kyle,” said Philander.
“There are no hard feelings between us. But the point is: Cricket South Africa needs to sort their stuff out. Both of us took a bit of a knock because of what happened there.”
Philander, who retired from international cricket following the completion of the Test series against England last month, added that his decision was fuelled by the defunct Cricket South Africa (CSA) leadership that imploded under former CEO Thabang Moroe.
“As a player, you get to the point where you’ve had enough,” he said.
“CSA’s former management only started looking after themselves, the players were the last ones they worried about. Too many things went wrong in the last while, I had to decide what is the best road ahead for me. Then I decided to retire.
“I am also 35 now, with a decent career behind me, but I would have considered playing longer if not for the chaos in our cricket administration.
“As is the case with any sport, the last thing that needs to happen is for players to be influenced negatively (by top management).
“Luckily there’s more credibility back now at CSA. Hopefully we’ll see a turnaround in fortunes at administrative level and on the playing field.
“We have to work together and decide which direction is the way forward. Hopefully we can make the road ahead easier for the younger guys.”
Philander has signed a Kolpak deal with Somerset.
– Compiled by Sport24 staff