AB de Villiers’ words proved to be premature when he cited ‘tiredness’ as his reason for retirement from international cricket in May, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The 35-year-old explosive batsman sent shockwaves through cricket when he retired suddenly on 23 May 2018 in a manner which was on his own terms, and disrespectful to the millions of AB fans in his home country – as well as his teammates and Cricket SA. Why disrespectful? Because he did not take the time to announce his retirement in a press conference, which would have allowed the Proteas fans to say goodbye to their hero, but he also called it quits using Twitter as his medium to break the news.
I’ve made a big decision today pic.twitter.com/In0jyquPOK
— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) May 23, 2018
The reasoning for his departure in his farewell video was also flawed: ‘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,’ said De Villiers.
‘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,’ he added.
For a ‘tired’ man, ‘Mr 360’ hasn’t held back on signing for most T20 leagues in the world. As recently as Monday, De Villiers committed to Middlesex for the English summer and will play in the T20 Blast.
This never prevented him from playing for the Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League (5 January 2019 – 8 February 2019), for Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League (14 February – 17 March) and playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL (from 23 March 2019 – 12 May 2019), Middlesex in the T20 Blast (18 July 2019 – 21 September 2019), and followed by a second appearance in the Mzansi Super League (expected to start in November 2019).
If tiredness and fatigue were the issue, then it baffles me how he can play so many tournaments with such congested fixture lists.
Why can’t he at least tell the public that the money he will be receiving for his talents is impossible to refuse and that he would like to secure the financial security for himself and his family for life? There’d be no shame in that and transparency is what the Proteas fans deserve, especially in World Cup year.
Another ‘reason’ for AB’s retirement went as follows: ‘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.’
This statement is questionable, as since his retirement he has yet to play for the Titans during the 2018-19 season.
In January 2017 AB told Radio 702 about his commitment to the 2019 Cricket World Cup: ‘I wanna do anything possible to get there. We haven’t lifted a trophy before. Yes, it’s important to play other formats, but mentally and physically I want to be in a good space come 2019 World Cup.’
Why could AB not make himself available for the World Cup alone, like the 39-year-old Chris Gayle, and help his country out one last time? Gayle has backed off substantially from his own international commitments, favouring the T20 circuit himself, but he has made himself available for the World Cup.
Maybe AB will surprise us all by making a John Cena-like 2008 Royal Rumble return.
Perhaps De Villiers lacks confidence in the Proteas side and expects them to have a poor World Cup, saving himself from another heart-wrenching tournament.
Frankly, I don’t want to see him make a comeback, with the likes of Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks rising up and proving themselves as great international talents for the Proteas top order. Therefore, I agree with only one statement that AB made: ‘It is time for others to take over.’
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix