Adam Gilchrist: ” He’s the most valuable cricketer on this planet.”
AB Can Do Everything! The ABcDe of world cricket shines with a string of many exciting, blissful memories attached to it.
“It’s about running out of gas and feeling that it was the right time to move on. Everything is supposed to come to an end.”
AB De Villiers’ final adieu to intl. cricket has left every follower of the game shell shocked. At 34, ABD still seemed to be at the peak of his career. Be it the longer red ball formats or the shorter versions, ABD continued to add a flair with his exhilarating presence. His recent IPL performance too goes on to reflect similar scenarios. Striking the ball at a healthy SR of 160, providing those consistent impressive performances and ensuring total commitment to the game made him one of those players to watch out for. Who can ever forget that superhuman catch down the boundary line off Alex Hales! Passionate, skillful, innovative, patient yet dangerous for any bowler to face, AB De Villiers revolutionized cricket.
Born in Bela-Bela, South Africa, Abraham Benjamin De Villiers grew up as a multi-talented individual. Gifted with an extraordinary cricketing talent, it took him mere 14 first class games before debuting for South Africa in 2004. Initially, he was well utilized by the Proteas as a floater who could open, bat down in the middle order as well as keep wickets. His prowess in each of these roles earned him a place in the ODI side in 2005 and corresponding T20I squad in 2006. With every game, he continued to impress and his presence soon triggered a positive energy across the whole South African cricket circuitry. His fielding gained a lot of applause especially when he caught Simon Katich off guard with a Johnty-like dive in 2006.
Shaping up well under the able captaincy of Graeme Smith, AB’s honest and continuous strive to develop his game brought out the best innovations and improvisations to the cricketing world. His fruitful form continued through the 2007 world cup and he then became the first South African to score a test double century against India later, in 2008. ABD was awarded as the ICC ODI Cricketer of the year in 2010, ‘14, ‘15 and is a part of ‘ICC ODI team of the year’ ever since. He matched the improbable when he recorded a 50+ average in ODIs for 7 consecutive years (2009-2015). Post 2011 World Cup when Smith hung up his boots, AB shouldered the responsibilities as a captain.
Harsha Bhogale: “For AB de Villiers, playing cricket was an adventure. There’s nothing he could not do on a cricket field.”
As they say, ‘Responsibilities get the best out of you’. AB De Villiers realised this phrase to maximum effect. His game reached new highs during this period and South African cricket found high regards in the cricketing fraternity. The iconic shuffle outside off, the exuberant sweeps against the fast bowlers, the efficient cuts and the forceful pulls, all became frequent during this period. Cricket was lent in a new definition and this South African star grew more popular as “MR. 360”.
India’s worst nightmare also revolves around his heroics(119 of 61) as South Africa powered their way to a record 438 at the Wankhede in 2015. Not only would he hit the ball hard and time it crisply but he would also pick out gaps like a computer and would play along with the bowler and his field. “Ask the West-Indians, and they’ll explain that fear better.” His 149 off 44 balls wherein he shattered fastest 50 and 100 record in process seemed like an inhuman massacre of the cricket ball. He almost repeated the same feat against the same opponent when he took them to all parts in 2015 ODI World Cup at the SCG. His 162 of 66 balls recorded the fastest 150 and propelled South Africa to the highest ever score at the venue. But his utmost dream was not meant to be fulfilled as the unfortunate chokers gave away once again to the rain-gods in the semi-finals against New Zealand.
Along with the limited overs format, De Villiers also expanded his reigns in the traditional red-ball cricket. His belief in his techniques, the ability to soak in pressure and his temperament to anchor the innings when needed made him a standout in the South African dressing room. Carrying the responsibility of the nation on his shoulders, AB rarely faltered to this challenge. One still remembers his gutsy fightback of 43 in 297 deliveries against India at Delhi on a bid to save the test match.
One also remembers his attacking game-play scoring 106 against Australia helping SA chase down a mammoth 414 in the 4th innings at Perth. A player who adapted to all situations like no one else, a player who responsibly stepped up when his team needed and a player who possessed the ability to turnover a match on its head at any moment, this 4th highest centurion of South Africa laid all their worries to rest.
Meanwhile, his stints with Delhi Daredevils (2008-2010) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (2011-present) in the IPL too brought him into spotlight. Almost reestablishing a depleted RCB side, he along with Virat Kohli developed a force bowlers are still scared of. The same continued across the globe around various T20 leagues where AB continued to win hearts. His unbreakable sublime form with the bat and his sensational heroics in the field made him a real superhero for the entire cricketing world.
Virat Kohli : ” ABD is the best batsman is the best batsman of this generation and he proves it again and again!”
Today, as he bids farewell to international cricket, we would only hope him to reconsider his decision and do a Afridiar comeback soon. He’s left a huge void to fill not only for South Africa but for the world cricket as a whole. The teary-eyed wishes of every cricket fan would forever cherish the bountiful memories and unbelievable shots he gifted all along. Chasing his dream to do well for his country ABD not only left back a legacy but also a huge emotion one would never forget.
Put down in his own words: (from De-Villiers’ first solo album)
” It’s the time
Be the best that you can be
To believe in anything you dream
To live it, to breathe it
Just feel it in your heart
Stand up tall and make a noise
Just be the one,
Show them who you are!”