Cricket's 'Mr 360' AB de Villiers calls it a day
It has been routine for AB de Villiers to surprise people with his innovative and audacious strokeplay. On Wednesday, the South African legend surprised, and saddened, the cricketing fraternity by retiring from international cricket.
“After 114 Test matches, 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is it is time for others to take over. I’ve had my turn and to be honest I’m tired,” he said on Twitter. He also said that he would not be playing any T20 leagues outside his home country while keeping the option open for Titans, the team he represents in South Africa’s domestic circuit.
While it leaves a huge void for South African cricket to try and fill, ABD quitting the scene is a big loss for the game itself. With the advent of popular T20 leagues around the world, he had become a truly global star of the game. ABD indicated that he may not even be playing any T20 leagues outside South Africa. If that happens, fans of IPL, especially those of the Bengaluru franchise, will be left pining for him, the affable star who fought many a gallant, and sometimes solitary, battle for RCB
De Villiers is a shining example of some of the highest virtues one wants to see in a sportsperson: Talent, athleticism (if the sport requires it), innovation, commitment, flair and sportsman spirit.
He was born a phenomenal sporting talent, a freak of nature who excelled in whatever sport he laid his hands on. Known as a ‘boy wonder’ in Pretoria during his growing years, de Villiers was selected for the junior national hockey and soccer teams. While holding several junior swimming records, he captained the junior national rugby team. He was a golfer of considerable promise, u-19 national badminton champion and was also a member of South Africa’s junior Davis Cup team.
To cap it all, he was good in academics too, having received a medal from Nelson Mandela himself. Has the game of cricket ever seen a more accomplished or more gifted player? The answer probably would be ‘no.’ What added to his stature was his unassuming ways and the unfailing grace with which he received victory or defeat. He wore his stardom and success very lightly and always remained a quintessential team man. No surprise, he was adored by fans and respected, and sometimes revered, by fellow cricketers. If we have to look for a role model for today’s young cricketers, he would be a very good choice. As the cliché goes, “he let his bat do all the talking”. He leaves while looking good for at least 2-3 years more on the circuit. He was SA’s best batsman in the demanding Test series against India and Australia recently, helping the team win both contests. He was also the most consistent player for RCB in this year’s IPL, hitting 480 runs at a high average of 53.33 and a strike rate of 174.54.
Cricket was privileged to have him as one of its biggest modern stars. Of course, he couldn’t win a major trophy, but that should not take away from his greatness as an entertainer and a performer.