South Africa batsman AB de Villiers has announced his decision to retire from international cricket with immediate effect, stating, via a video message, that he had “run out of gas.” The 34-year-old batsman said ‘the time is right’ for him to hang up his boots, bringing a close to a stellar 14-year career.
“I have decided to retire from all international cricket with immediate effect,” de Villiers said on Wednesday (May 23). “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,” de Villiers said.
De Villiers finishes his career with a staggering 20,014 international runs (8765 in Tests, 9577 in ODIs and 1672 in T20Is) and signs off with a batting average over 50 in both Tests (50.66) and ODIs (53.50).
It was widely expected that de Villiers would play on for South Africa, at least in the limited-overs formats, until the 2019 World Cup in England, given his frequent proclamations of wanting to win a major title with the national team.
His sabbatical from Test cricket between January 2016 and December 2017 due to a combination of fitness and personal concerns, was expected to have the knock-on effect of brightening his prospects of a swansong at the World Cup in England. He returned late 2017, as captain, in the four-day Test against Zimbabwe at the start of South Africa’s home season, pledging his allegiance to all three formats. However, the exhilarating wins over India and Australia in which de Villiers played a key role with 211 and 427 runs respectively, left him ‘drained out’.
“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.
“It would not be right for me to pick and choose where, when and in what format I play for the Proteas. For me, in the green and gold, it must be everything or nothing. I will always be grateful to the coaches and staff of Cricket South Africa for their support through all these years. The most important thank you goes out to all of my team mates throughout my career, I wouldn’t be half the player that I am without the support throughout the years.
“It’s not about earning more somewhere else, it’s about running out of gas and feeling that it is the right time to move on. Everything comes to an end. To the cricket fans around South Africa and the World, thank you for your kindness and generosity, and today, for your understanding.
“I have no plans to play overseas, in fact, I hope I can continue to be available for the Titans in domestic cricket. I will continue to be the biggest supporter of Faf du Plessis and the Proteas.”
Reacting to the shock announcement, Cricket South Africa President Chris Nenzani said: “AB is one of the all-time greats of South African cricket who has thrilled spectators around the world with his sheer brilliance, coupled to his ability to innovate and take modern day batting in all three formats but particularly in the white ball ones to new levels.
“What is probably more important is the inspiration he has been to his team mates whether playing at international or domestic level and the wonderful role model he has been to all our aspiring youngsters. It goes without saying that he is going to be greatly missed wherever international cricket is played.”
A naturally gifted stroke-maker, de Villiers made his first class debut in 2003 for Northerns against a Western Province side and made a mark immediately by scoring half-centuries in each innings of that game as an opener. In a little over a year’s time, he was fast-tracked into the Test side and opened the batting alongside Graeme Smith in the Port Elizabeth Test against England.
Subsequently, he moved down the batting order and quickly turned himself into an indispensable member of South Africa’s highly successful Test sides. Post Mark Boucher’s retirement, he even took over full-time keeping responsibilities, giving up the gloves midway through this decade as fitness issues mounted. He played 98 consecutive Tests before missing the series against Bangladesh in 2015 due to paternity leave.
It was the ODI format, perhaps, that de Villiers enjoyed most. He captained the side in 103 games since taking over from Graeme Smith in 2012, without the role bearing down on his explosive batting for a sustained period. He was in charge for the 2015 World Cup campaign, which ended in tears following a heart-wrenching semi-final loss to New Zealand at Eden Park. He held on to the post until August 2017 when he stepped down to let Faf du Plessis become the all-format leader.
AB – A statistical highlight– De Villiers holds the record for the fastest 50, 100 & 150 in ODI history
50 off 16 balls vs WI, Johanesburg, 2015
100 off 31 balls vs WI, Johanesburg, 2015
150 off 64 balls vs WI, SCG, 2015
– Among those players who have batted at least 20 innings in ODIs, AB de Villiers is the only player to average 50+ and score at a 100+ strike rate.
– Among those that have played at least 50 ODI innings, only Virat Kohli (58.11) and Michael Bevan (53.58) average more than AB’s 53.50.
– Among captains who have led in at least 10 ODIs, his average of 63.95 is second only to Kohli’s 84.35
– De Villiers has scored the most runs for South Africa in World Cups – 1207 runs from 22 innings; Avg 63.52; SR 117.29; 4x100s
– Among those who have kept in at least 25 games, de Villiers has the best batting average in both Tests (57.41) & ODIs (70.54)