AB de Villiers, known for his innovative and insouciant strokeplay, and hailed as one of the greatest entertainers in contemporary cricket, said he was ‘tired, and out of gas’ as he announced his retirement from international cricket on Wednesday. The announcement brings the curtains down on a glorious 14-year career, in which he has featured in 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20s for South Africa.
“I have decided to retire from all international cricket with immediate effect,” he said. “After 114 Test matches, 228 ODIs and 78 T20 Internationals, it is time for others to take over. I have had my turn, and to be honest, I am tired. “This is a tough decision, I have thought long and hard about it and I’d like to retire while still playing decent cricket. After the fantastic series wins against India and Australia, now feels like the right time to step aside,” he said. De Villiers’ sudden decision comes just four days after he had completed yet another stellar season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in this IPL.
Over the last two years, the former South Africa Test captain has been fighting fatigue, and even took time away from Test cricket in 2017. The reason being he wanted to keep himself fresh for the 2019 World Cup in England. However, his retirement means that the Faf Du Plessis-led team would now be taking that flight to London next year without their talisman in the ranks.
Till November 2017, De Villiers was poised to feature in the showpiece event in England. The sudden change in plans could probably be propagated by his decision to return to Test cricket last summer — where South Africa hosted India and Australia in two high-octane clashes that featured seven Tests. Following this, he was jettisoned into the rigours of IPL. Being on the road for the past six months was probably the tipping point.
The 34-year-old’s exploits in the shorter formats of the game notwithstanding — he holds the record for scoring the quickest century in ODIs which came in just 31 deliveries against West Indies in January 2015 – De Villiers will probably be remembered for orchestrating some out-of-the-world match-winning knocks for South Africa in Tests. The most obvious and talked about example being his unbeaten 106 he scored in the second innings of South Africa’s famous win in Perth. His final and 22nd Test century came against Australia in March. For someone, who loved playing against Australia, it was only befitting that he ends his career against his favourite opponents.
If Australia was his favoured opponent, India is a country he loved visiting. Over the years, his annual IPL jaunts have made him an instant hit. Suffice to note that the South African is easily the most popular non-Indian cricketer. And every time he comes out to bat, stadiums across India are drowned by that all-too-familiar chants of ‘AB dee… AB dee’.
De Villiers does not have plans of playing overseas. This would mean that he will also not be available for the IPL in the future. Going forward, he will be available for domestic cricket in South Africa.
Not surprisingly, tributes have been pouring in since his announcement today. Mark Boucher, the former South Africa wicket-keeper batsman, and someone who has seen De Villiers’ initiation into international cricket, puts it rather succinctly on Twitter.
I remember this young guy on his 1st day out for Proteas… What an inspiration, person and player he turned out to be. Thank you for everything you have done and been for your country, teammates and fans @ABdeVilliers17 #legend
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