AB de Villiers has said that the hectic schedule of international cricket became too much for him and his family towards the end of his South Africa career and that it was a major contributing factor behind his decision to call time on his international career.
Speaking to Standard Sport, de Villiers said that although there were aspects of international game that he missed, he does not regret his decision. He said: “Playing at the highest level alongside your friends, scoring runs for your country are things that I look back and go, ‘Ah, I miss that a little bit’, but there’s a lot I don’t miss.
“I don’t miss 90 per cent of it. I’ve pretty much moved on. I’ve made peace with the fact that the World Cup will not define me. Yes, it would be nice to add that to what’s been a very enjoyable career, but I know it won’t define me as a person or cricketer.”
De Villiers’ decision to retire from the international game came as something of a surprise. At 34, de Villiers was still a key player in all formats for his country and only two months prior to his retirement he scored a thrilling 126* in an otherwise low-scoring Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth.
With South Africa having just been on the receiving end of a shock 2-0 home defeat to Sri Lanka, the hole left by his retirement is clearer now than at any point since he made his decision to retire public. But, de Villiers, who admits that “it is painful to see them (South Africa) lose”, has no intention of returning to the international stage.
“You can never keep everyone happy. I’ve always been a people pleaser. I’m very passionate about my country, but I’m at a stage of my life where I’ve moved on. There are people who think I should still be playing, but the international scene just became a little bit too much for me with my family and a few other things. You have to answer to yourself, look yourself in the mirror and that’s what I’ve done. The most important people to please are your family.”
De Villiers’ retirement also means that South Africa will be without his services for their World Cup campaign later this year even though de Villiers, through a T20 stint with Middlesex, will still be playing cricket in England.
On signing his first contract in English domestic cricket, de Villiers said: “It’s exciting that the opportunity to play county cricket has finally come along. And I couldn’t hope for a better club to join. The international schedule was always just too hectic for it to happen sooner. Playing your cricket at Lord’s is a special bonus. I never made it onto that honours board, but I have great memories of playing there.”
Given Middlesex’s recent difficulties in T20 cricket – they won just two of their 14 T20 games in 2018 – they will be desperately hopeful that the globetrotting T20 superstar will have a big impact during his short stay with the county.