South African talisman AB de Villiers announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket on Wednesday, saying he was tired and wanted to step out while still at the top.
The 34-year-old, whose swashbuckling batting style and razor sharp fielding has made him one of the sport's leading lights, only returned to test cricket in December after a lengthy hiatus where he focused on the limited overs formats of the game.
De Villiers retires with a test average of 50.66 and as the fourth-highest scorer for South Africa with 8,765 runs. He made 22 test centuries.
In ODI cricket, he holds the records for the fastest 50 (16 balls), 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls).
Let’s take a look at some of his career defining knocks from all form of cricket.
149 (44) vs West Indies at Johannesburg, 2015
Corey Anderson had broken Shahid Afridi’s 18-year-old record for the fastest One-Day International in 2015 by completing his ton in 36 balls. But within a year de Villiers smashed a hapless West Indies attack to score a hundred off 31 balls.
Batting first, South Africa were 247 for one in the 39th over when de Villiers walked out. The openers had put on a show, but that lost all relevance by the magic of de Villiers.
From the word go, de Villiers smashed everything in sight, getting down on one knee and hoicking, scooping and lofting in his trademark fashion. By the time he was out, South Africa had powered to 439, the second highest score in ODI history.
162 (66) vs West Indies at Sydney, ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
West Indies were once again at the receiving end — this time during the World Cup.
De Villiers walked in at 146 for three in the 29th over. He then dished out the most brutal treatment to the clueless West Indian bowlers. His knock powered South Africa to 408. De Villiers hit 17 fours and eight sixes.
To explain his innings , one must break up West Indies skipper Jason Holder’s figures. In his first five overs upfront, Holder conceded only nine runs and took a wicket. In his last five, he was smashed for 95 runs. His figures ultimately read 104 for one in 10 overs.
278*(418) vs Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 2010
Batting first on a flat track, South Africa were in early trouble at 33/3 when AB de Villiers joined Kallis in the middle at the Sheikh Abu Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. But along with Kallis, he started rebuilding and then consolidating and slowly went onto, not only break records but Pakistani spirits as well.
When the South African first innings was done, AB de Villiers had batted for an unbeaten 10 hours and went onto to score a mammoth 278, the then highest test score by a South African. In a 418-ball vigil at the crease, De Villiers took South Africa from 33/3 to 584/7 declared. Though the Test was drawn, ABD once again left his mark.
106* (186) vs Australia, Perth, 2008
ABD’s fourth innings score of 106 not out against Australia in Perth has to be one of the best tons of his career. The fact that the century came in the fourth innings, in a winning cause while chasing a mammoth total of 414, makes it extra special.
Australia were on top when De Villiers came out to bat. Along with important fifties from Kallis and Duminy, ABD’s unbeaten 106 helped South Africa make history by chasing down the second-highest total in the fourth innings, which at one point seemed unthinkable as South Africa had lost skipper Graeme Smith (108) and Hashim Amla (53) in the space of 7 runs.
It was de Villiers’s valiant hundred ensured his team created history.
33 (220) vs Australia, Adelaide, 2008
In a list which comprises of scores north of 100, a innings of 33 not out has to be an oddity.
But the 33 off 220 balls AB de Villiers made against Australia at Adelaide is certainly amongst his best.
After being set 430 to win, South Africa started the final day at 77/4 and by the end of it, the score read 248/8 and the match resulted in an incredible draw. AB de Villiers curbed all his natural instincts and blocked his way to 33 and spent more than four hours at the crease.
Faf du Plessis batted brilliantly to score a 110 (spending more than 7 and a half hours at the crease) and was the hero for South Africa, but without De Villiers’s stubborn and stroke-less 33, the draw might not have been possible.
His stand of 89 with du Plessis where they batted out 67 overs was instrumental in South Africa averting defeat and staying alive in the three-test series. This innings scored at a strike-rate of 15 was as important as any other hundred for AB de Villiers.