AB de Villiers retired from all cricket on Friday, ending a career that saw him flourish into one of his generation's most gifted batsmen in any format, whether in test matches for his country or Twenty20 games for club teams across the world.
De Villiers had retired from all international cricket with South Africa in 2018 but remained a highly sought after commodity and continued playing in various domestic T20 leagues, most noticeably with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.
“It has been an incredible journey, but I have decided to retire from all cricket,” de Villiers said in a statement on his official Twitter account. "Ever since the back yard matches with my older brothers, I have played the game with pure enjoyment and unbridled enthusiasm.
“Now, at the age of 37, that flame no longer burns so brightly. That’s the reality I must accept - and, even if it may seem sudden, that is why I am making this announcement today. I’ve had my time."
De Villiers gave up playing for his country three years ago while still at the top of his game and after being pivotal in a test series victory over Australia. Then, he spoke about the demands playing placed on him and his family, particularly for a player who was one of the first names on South Africa's team-sheet in every format and for every series.
He represented Royal Challengers Bangalore for a decade after first signing for them in 2011, and had three years to concentrate on playing for them after giving up internationals. There, he struck up a close friendship and highly productive on-field partnership with India captain Virat Kohli. De Villiers also played T20 cricket for teams in Australia, Pakistan and Barbados toward the end of his career.
“I am aware that nothing would have been possible without the sacrifices made by my family ... I look forward to the next chapter of our lives when I can truly put them first,” de Villiers said on Friday.
De Villiers played top-level cricket for 17 years and at times balanced the role of top batsman with duty as a wicketkeeper, and if not behind the stumps he was one of the best fielders in any team. He also captained South Africa.
The phrase most associated with him was “a 360-degree batsman” - meaning he could hit the ball anywhere, such was the range of his shots and talent.
De Villiers considered coming out of international retirement this year to play for South Africa at the T20 World Cup, but he and Cricket South Africa couldn't reach an agreement, meaning there wouldn't be one last hurrah for de Villiers on the big stage.
Still, “cricket has been exceptionally kind to me,” de Villiers said.