A day that has left fans and cricket lovers in a state of shock. The love affair with South African AB de Villiers has come to an end quite abruptly. He was only 34! Cricket’s Mr 360, AB de Villiers bid farewell to international cricket. AB shared his retirement news on social media site Twitter. One of the greatest ever, AB leaves a rich legacy behind after having ruled international cricket over the years.
Many must feel couldn’t AB stay until the ICC 2019 World Cup to be played in England? An answer only he knows best. It’s a sad day in cricket all around given the attributes AB presented over the years with a phenomenal style of play. A modern day legend that ruled all three formats of the game; AB was a special person and a true sporting hero.
One of the greatest ever in cricket, the master ruled the pitch with his ability to go a step above both as a batsman and a fielder. There will be a big hole left in South African cricket and it is time for fresh talents to come and fill in. He played the game like it is supposed to be played. AB brought joy in abundance and was adventurous throughout his rich career.
I’ve made a big decision today pic.twitter.com/In0jyquPOK
— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) May 23, 2018
AB was in stunning form in 2018
Both against India and Australia in the Test series earlier this year, he looked in supreme form. One of the prime forces in helping the Proteas to win successive Test series at home. When everybody else was suffering with bouts of inconsistency, AB stood tall and battled it out with sheer desire to be one step ahead of the opponents. He batted positively and rung in partnerships with the tail. He thrived with consistency and brought shape to that middle-order.
He scored 638 runs in six Test matches against India and Australia respectively. Both the sides had renounced pace attacks. He carried that form into the Indian Premier League and enthralled fans with a lot of gusto. 480 runs from 12 matches; he almost led RCB to the playoffs. Even Virat Kohli was in awe of the player.
Fans will miss him all around
The manner in which AB connected with fans in India especially was another level altogether. No other foreigner enjoyed the love and respect that AB demanded here. He made Bengaluru his 2nd home.
The memories over the years in IPL made him win hearts and they sang to his tunes. Even when he toured with South Africa, fans across the globe cheered with the top of their voices for him. A simpleton, AB’s charisma had waves of positivity.
Mr 360 was likened to Vivian Richards
ABD’s attacking batting style was always compared to former West Indian legendary batsman Sir Vivian Richards. The latter had brought a new spectacle and freshness to the sport like no one else. AB was Richards of the modern day, who played aggressively and his shot-making ability was the best in the business.
AB could hit shots in any direction he wanted to. For this, he was named Mr 360. One got a hang of it when he smashed record books clinching the fastest century in ODIs (31 balls). That knock against the West Indies gave a glimpse of what AB de Villiers could achieve on the pitch. There was no place to hide for the bowlers.
The numbers don’t lie
The 34-year-old made his international debut in the Test series against England in 2004 and played in a limited-overs match a year later. He played 114 Test matches for South Africa besides 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is. He scored a mammoth 8,765 Test runs with a best of 278* at an average of 50.66. In ODIs, the legendary cricketer amassed 9,577 runs at a healthy average of 53.50.
He had a total of 47 centuries in both Tests and ODIs. AB’s 22nd – and final – Test century came against Australia in March earlier this year. He was a former Test and ODI captain. He led South Africa to the semis of the ICC 2015 World Cup. He shined in the mega tourney with 482 runs at an average of 96.
He also claimed the coveted SA Cricketer of the Year award twice (2014 and 2015).
A look back at some of his best innings
His unbeaten 217 against India in 2008 at Ahmedabad was one of the best Test innings ever. SA won the match under three days. At Centurion against India in 2010, he smashed a brutal 129 from 112 balls as the Proteas inflicted a heavy defeat on MS Dhoni’s touring side. Who can forget the 162* off 66 balls versus West Indies during the 2015 ICC World Cup? His massacre that day will be cherished forever.