Following AB de Villiers announcing his retirement, cricket lovers around the world are expressing their love for one of the finest players to have emerged from South Africa.
Among the fans was Pakistan skipper Babar Azam who also took to his social media handles to share how the star player has inspired him since childhood.
“You were my childhood inspiration and I always tried to learn from your charismatic approach,” Babar wrote on Twitter.
Recalling his first interaction with De Villiers, he added: “I still remember the first time I met you and how welcoming you were.”
You were my childhood inspiration and I always tried to learn from your charismatic approach. I still remember the first time I met you and how welcoming you were. You have inspired many generations of cricket. Wish you the very best and a happy retirement, @ABdeVilliers17! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/nlqsyW8iSI
— Babar Azam (@babarazam258) November 19, 2021
“You have inspired many generations of cricket. Wish you the very best and a happy retirement.”
De Villiers, who announced his retirement from cricket on Friday, will be remembered as one of the sport’s great entertainers and one of the finest players to represent South Africa.
He was an outstanding batsman in all forms of international cricket, averaging more than 50 in both 118 Test matches and 228 one-day internationals.
He scored at better than a run a ball in one-day internationals and had a strike rate of 135.16 in 78 T20 internationals.
In T20 cricket, he was one of the most popular and successful players in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He earned the nickname “Mr 360” for his ability to play shots to all parts of the ground, an ability never better illustrated than when he scored a century off 31 balls against the West Indies in Johannesburg in 2014/15. It remains the fastest hundred in one-day internationals.
But De Villiers could also adapt his game to play long defensive innings.
He made 33 off 220 balls without a boundary in helping former schoolmate Faf du Plessis save a Test against Australia in 2012/13 and eked out 43 over almost six hours and 297 balls against India´s dominant spin bowlers in Delhi in 2015/16.
That tour of India perfectly illustrated De Villiers’ ability to adapt to circumstances.
In a five-match one-day series which preceded the Tests, he hit three stroke-filled centuries — off 73, 98 and 57 balls — and despite scoring them against the host nation had the home crowds chanting “ABD, ABD”.
It was perhaps because of De Villiers’ dominance in the one-day games that the four Test matches which followed were played on pitches which gave extravagant help to India’s spin bowlers.
De Villiers was immensely popular in India and had ten seasons with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, sharing hero status with RCB and India captain Virat Kohli. He scored more than 5,000 runs in the IPL at a strike rate above 150.
After the announcement, the franchise praised his contribution and De Villiers was quoted as saying he would “cherish for a lifetime” the memories of playing for RCB.