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AB can do whatever he likes

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AB_de_Villiers_cricket_South_AfricaAB de Villiers recently announced that he will no longer be the Proteas Test captain. It was an announcement that those in the know were expecting, but for some it was a bit of a surprise.

For the more cynical of view, it was an admission that his heart is no longer up to the pressure cauldron of international cricket. Since AB made mention of how he is looking to ‘manage his work load’ in January of 2016, people have been suggesting he is just interested in T20 cricket and the big paydays that come with it.

There will always be speculation and gossip around the big players. But the speculation and analyses around ‘where his head is at’ are really meaningless right now.

 

The truth is that AB is more than welcome to do whatever he wants. At the age of 32, South Africans naturally want him to give a few more seasons to the national team in the Test arena. He, however, has earned the right to do what he chooses, and absolutely nobody can begrudge him this. Not in the slightest.

Since making his Test debut in 2004 against England, AB has earned 106 caps. Remarkably, his first 98 caps were consecutive, with only New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum playing more consecutive Tests for his country since debut.

The run was only broken by the birth of his first child. People like to question his commitment, but that record says it all really. The dedication to the team, the dedication to staying fit for the Test cause, while still giving his all for the ODI and T20 team is commitment on another level.

He has always been an incredible team man. Since his debut he has batted everywhere from 1-8 in the batting lineup. He opened the batting on 35 occasions at the start of his career, averaging a respectable 36.14. He was then used down the order at 7/8 before establishing himself in the middle order where he averages 61.43 as a no.5 batsman.

Through all these positions, always needed to make a decent contribution to the team, AB has amassed 8074 runs, with 21 centuries and 39 half-centuries. He scored centuries against all major Test playing nations, only missing out against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Nine times he passed the 150 mark. He scored two double hundreds too, both unbeaten, both away from home in tough conditions (278* vs Pakistan and 217* vs India). He averages 50.46 in all Tests, but incredibly his away average in 48 Tests is 55.24.

 

The true all-round cricketer and team man, he even applied himself to the role of wicketkeeper as his team failed to fill the void left by the great Mark Boucher. He took the gloves in 23 Tests for the Proteas, taking 93 catches and effecting 5 stumpings. All this while a back injury was always lingering.

He even bowled 34 overs in Tests, claiming 2 wickets. When he was fielding, he wasn’t just watching clouds at mid-on. Either in the slips or the action offside field, AB took 104 catches, and was always a source of inspiration and excitement to his fellow team mates on long afternoons.

He has literally given his all to this team in good times and bad. Against all opposition, in all conditions. Being the star player is never easy, but AB has always accepted his role and worked as hard as possible in order to reach his potential.

He even stepped into the Test captain role after Hashim Amla wasn’t interested in it. He did so without a question, despite the fact that many believe he was originally snubbed in favour of a reluctant Hashim Amla (post Smith).

Ideally, it would be great if he could come back for one last Test dig against the English mid-way through 2017. But if he isn’t feeling it and wants to manage his time to incorporate more T20 cricket, then so be it.

 

We fans (via social media) have become so comfortable with mouthing off about sports stars nowadays, but with AB de Villiers here we have a player who needs to be wholeheartedly respected.

He has gone above and beyond the call of duty for his country, and that is all that counts here.

I hope AB gets to achieve whatever he puts his mind to in the final chapters of his career. If it’s continuing to do his country proud, great. If it is to make Dhoni money with his new MRF bat in T20 cricket, also great.

AB de Villiers is a cricketing legend, and we are extremely fortunate to have been alive during his career.

 

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Ben Karpinski is a South African sports blogger/MC/tweeter with a heart so broken by the Proteas, t...

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