From refusing to walk after edging a ball to slips in 2007 to walking away from the game he loved to give chance to youngsters in 2018, the cricketing career of Ab de Villiers has seen it all. Abraham Benjamin De Villiers has not only been a great ambassador of the game but also a great human being on and off the field. Here are some of the good qualities that sets him apart from his counterparts:
Mr 360: Be it a glorious copy book cover-drive or an unorthodox scoop Ab de Villiers has all the shots in his armory. Very few batsmen in the world can dream of having such a wide repertoire of shots like Ab de Villiers. But what sets him apart is that ABD knows to fire the right ammunition at the right time i.e. he knows how to play those shots according to the match situation.
Team Player: Ab de Villiers was an ultimate team player in whichever team he played. He has opened the innings in the past, scored galore of runs in the middle order. Having started his career as a wicket keeper batsman , Ab de Villiers was a live wire in the field and took some acrobatic catches after he was relieved from wicketkeeping duties. Ab de Villiers even rolled his arms in the 2015 WC and picked up 4 wickets with his medium pace.
Passionate: Ab de Villiers has taken immense pride in representing his country . His quench to win an ICC trophy for South Africa was his ultimate driving force. However the Protean dream went crashing when South Africa was ousted from the semifinals of 2015 World Cup by New Zealand. Seeing Ab de Villiers cry on the field brought tears to every true cricket fan across the globe.
Man of the Hour: Ab de Villiers has delivered for whichever team he has turned out in crisis situations. I would site out two examples:
In one of the test matches against India when South Africa had to bat the entire 5th day to save the test match on a rank turner, Ab de Villiers played an uncharacteristic innings of 43 runs in 297 balls. The six hour long marathonsesque innings was not enough to secure a draw but Ab de Villiers received a standing ovation from the Kotla crowd while walking back to the pavilion for his Herculean effort.
In another match in IPL 2016,RCB were playing the first qualifier against Gujarat Lions. RCB were chasing 159 to book a seat in the finals. The target did not look daunting though but the RCB batsmen made a mess out of the chase.
RCB was tottering at 29/5 with all those big names back in the shed. The only ray of hope that remained was Ab de Villiers. Ab de Villiers started the rebuilding process. He played his shots, took calculative risks and stitched an unbeaten 99 runs partnership with Iqbal Abdullah to take RCB to the IPL finals. The unbeaten innings of 79 from 47 balls that comprised of 5 fours and 5 sixes may not replicate the prowess that this man possessed but it would go down as one of the most impactful innings of his IPL career.
Global Fan Following: Ab de Villiers is one of the few players who has a global fan following. Chants of “ABD” are predominant in any ground where he has played. In 2015, the Indians chanted Ab de Villiers name in Wankhede Stadium against India. The Proteas posted 438 in that game went on to win the match against India by beating them by 214 runs. Ab de Villiers returned the favors by scoring a brilliant 59 balls century in that match.
Humility: On one hand, where his supermanesque batsmanship has hailed him as a batsman from another planet, on the other hand it is his humble nature that has kept him grounded. A true gentleman and a brilliant ambassador of the game has been an added bonus to his larger-than-life cricketing prowess.
After his international retirement in 2018, Ab de Villiers continues to feature in the IPL and other global T20 leagues. There were high chances that ABD might come out of international retirement post IPL 2021. However, those speculations were put to rest when CSA declared that Ab de Villiers will stay committed to his international retirement. However if reports are to be believed he chose to stay retired as he did not want to claim the place of someone who dream of representing South Africa at the International Level.
With this announcement, the aura of this modern-day legend whose comeback was perhaps the most anticipated international comeback comes to an end. He will continue to feature in the different T-20 Leagues across the globe but the dream of seeing him again in the Protean colours stands broken.
Image Credits: Cricinfo.