The cricket world was getting used to not seeing AB de Villiers each time South Africa stepped out to play. But that changed late last year when he started playing Test cricket regularly again.
All was well, till the shock announcement on Wednesday 23 May, when Cricket South Africa released a statement saying the champion batsman had called time on his 14-year international career.
Across on Twitter, the disbelief was all too obvious.
I remember this young guy on his 1st day out for Proteas... What an inspiration, person and player he turned out to be. Thank you for everything you have done and been for your country, teammates and fans @ABdeVilliers17 #legend pic.twitter.com/8gQBDWbAp7— mark boucher (@markb46) May 23, 2018
So shocked to here @ABdeVilliers17 has decided to call time on his international career. But that’s just life and he feels it’s time to move on. Thank you great man for your amazing Match winning Performances, Skill Captaincy and most of all your Humility. 👏👏👏— Allan Donald (@AllanDonald33) May 23, 2018
Thoughts immediately went to what would be missed - 360° batting was, of course, at the top of the list.
A great of the game, no doubt about that ...
... but all of it was laced with a tinge of sadness. Will we ever see someone like him again?
Such a shame for international cricket @ABdeVilliers17 ... But he has been an unbelievable advert to how I would have loved to have played all 3 formats .. GREAT GREAT Player ... Top 3 that I have ever seen .. #AB— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) May 23, 2018
Really gutted to hear this. But you only deserve to go out on your terms,what you've given to the world as a player and a person is second to none. One of the best EVER. Thank you Champion! @ABdeVilliers17 https://t.co/MCqH0rdQmE— Brendan Taylor (@BrendanTaylor86) May 23, 2018
The prevailing feeling, however, was of shock.
Must admit to being a bit shocked by @ABdeVilliers17 decision to quit all international cricket. We knew it was coming but I thought he would give the World Cup another shot.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 23, 2018
Um...what the...just land in Singapore to see this news. The world of cricket will miss your skill on the field, your passion towards the game and he humbleness you showed. All the best for the future. #ABDevilliers https://t.co/H1zplIXkDy— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) May 23, 2018
But the shock was, for the most part, kept at bay. Instead, there was unbridled gratitude.
Many congratulations @ABdeVilliers17 on a glorious Cricket career. You enriched the game with your ability, presence and mannerisms and will continue to be a role-model for aspiring cricketers. Wish you a very happy post-retirement life.— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) May 23, 2018
An inspiration to millions, and one of the greatest to have come from South Africa. @ABdeVilliers17 retired a true legend!— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) May 23, 2018
Congratulations @ABdeVilliers17 , the most loved cricketer in the world, on a wonderful career. International cricket will be poorer without you, but you will continue to be celebrated by cricket fans around the world pic.twitter.com/uA7CBlYE9F— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) May 23, 2018