ibnlive » Sports

Aug 17, 2006 at 08:42pm IST

Proteas deny team split over return

Colombo: South Africa's cricketers have struck back at suggestions made in Sri Lanka that senior players bullied lower-profile colleagues into agreeing to abandon the tour on security grounds.

Local newspapers lambasted the tourists on Thursday in a series of articles which called captain Mark Boucher and his team "chickens".

They said junior players had wanted to stay despite a bomb blast close to the team hotel on Monday which killed seven people.

TOGETHER WE ARE: Speculations have it that senior players bullied lower-profile colleagues into abandoning the Sri Lankan tour.

"We all decided together that we wanted to go home because it's not safe here," said 21-year-old AB de Villiers shortly before the team's departure on Thursday evening.

"It was completely a team decision. I'll give everything for my cricket, everything but my life. It had nothing to do with senior players or junior players. It was a complete team decision," De Villiers said.

"Bouch (Boucher) was very disappointed to read some articles claiming that there was a split in this squad. We are going home and that is the right decision.

"It's not nice being from a foreign country and having bombs going off around you. We have security experts with us here and they are telling us to return home. It's as simple as that. The team were united at every stage.

"This is only cricket we are playing here, it's not the same as life and death," De Villiers added.

Opening batsman Loots Bosman, who would have made his One-Day International debut, concurred: "The only thing that mattered was our safety.

"I'm personally disappointed at the way the whole tour has turned out but everyone knew that safety was a problem and there were no differing opinions at all," Bosman said.