Having retired from international cricket in May, South Africa legend AB de Villiers opens up about not chasing the limelight, and he has some warm and encouraging words for the Test format too.
The 34-year old announced that his South Africa career was coming to an end in May, and with an average of over 50 in both the Test and ODI arenas, he will go down as one of the greatest batsmen to have ever lived. Despite his record-breaking and logic-defying white-ball feats, he expressed his devotion to Test cricket.
“I don’t understand why people are negative about cricket,” he told The Independent. “I believe it’s in a great place. There are some areas that we need to balance out, and the ICC have a big role to play in that.
"T20 has changed the face of the game. It’s brought so many different people to the game, and made the awareness around the world so much bigger. I love Test cricket, and I think it’s going nowhere. But the ICC has a really big role to play in making sure all the formats survive.”
De Villiers called it quits a month after averaging a whopping 71.16 in the home series victory in Tests against Australia, indicating that he was still at the top of his game technically. However, being his nation's talisman in all formats was a draining experience, and eventually took its toll.
“It’s been unbearable at times: the pressure you have to face, performing day in and day out. The expectations that you put on yourself, from fans, from the country, from coaches. It is huge, and it’s something that’s on your mind all the time as a cricketer. And it’s definitely something that I’m not going to miss. I’m very happy to have stepped away. Absolutely no regrets.
“I was prepared to embrace it, to fight the pressure. And I’m happy that I did. But it certainly takes its toll after a while. I feel there is room for players to be more honest about it, having systems in place to make sure they keep fresh and mentally healthy. I was certainly not mentally ill at the time, but I can relate to the fact that pressure can really drive you down, and make you so tired.”
Despite his devastating exploits in the IPL and numerous other worldwide events in which he took centre-stage, de Villiers doesn't yet yearn for the limelight.
“I know nothing will compare to that feeling of scoring hundreds in a big game. Thousands of people chanting your name. But in all fairness, I don’t miss it. Not yet. Maybe a year down the line. I’m still going to play for a few years; I’ll still play a little bit around the world. But on my own terms. I’ve always been shy. I don’t really like attention too much. It’s… quite ironic. But I get embarrassed quite a bit.”
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