There have been cricketers and then there has been one AB De Villiers who is celebrating his 36th Birthday today while his fans are hoping for him to make a comeback to International cricket. The South African selection panel will sit to select players for the T20 series against Australia and there are unconfirmed rumours that he might get picked in the squad.
Meanwhile, that will or will not happen later in the day. Even if he doesn’t play cricket any more, it wouldn’t change the fact that he has been the most gifted player of this era. And then there is one thing being born with certain abilities and then there is another thing being able to utilize those abilities to someone’s fullest potential which depends upon how much work he/she has put through the process.
This is something which gets associated with Lionel Messi when it comes to Football. Not every gifted player turns out to be a legend, there have been various examples of players who have wasted their abilities due to one reason or the other. Not De Villiers, someone who has stayed at the top of ICC ODI rankings for more than 2100 days which is only second to Sir Viv Richards.
Although every time you search the internet about AB, you will find articles about him playing various sports such as Hockey, Football, Badminton, Rugby, Swimming and obviously Cricket which is not true at all but the sport he actually played, he didn’t do bad at it. In fact, he mastered it. He bats everywhere and as per every situation ,he keeps, he fields everywhere and he can bowl a fair bit as well. Surely, you can’t name a more versatile player than him at least in this era, can you?
Let’s get to some numbers, even though AB’s legacy is not just about numbers and let’s not make it boring by bringing some of his most popular & repeated records such as fastest 50, 100 & 150 in an inning. Talking about few of his less known records, AB as captain, has hit 61 sixes in a calendar year which is the most bettering Ganguly’s record of 34 by long margin. He is the only batsman in ODIs to have the batting average beyond 50(53) and strike rate over 100(101). A lot of times, he gets judged by him not winning an ODI WC but as the records suggest, he has never been short of efforts. ABD has the highest average (63) in WC amongst the batsmen who have over 1000 runs.
But what AB did achieve is simply beyond numbers. He has achieved the love and respect worldwide which is what a sportsperson dreams of when he starts his career. Remember Indian crowd chanting ” AB, AB ” in an important match ‘ against ‘ India? They accepted him as one of their very own. Of course playing IPL in this country helped his popularity grow immensely but to have such kind of craze in a country which you are not a citizen of, it demands staggering and consistent International heroics.
If the pitch is seaming or turning or the situation simply demands to hang in there, he scores 43(297) on a given day. On the other day, when he comes during 39th over of a 50 over match, he scores 149(44). One player, two different scenarios, two contrasting innings, search ‘ Most versatile cricketer ‘ on Internet and the image of AB De Villiers will pop up on your screen and there is no need to explain why.
IPL has seen some of the best AB moments. Not 1 or 10, the number of impact innings he has played in 12 seasons of IPL can not be counted on fingers. That also depends upon how do you define ‘ impact ‘. RCB requires 10 from 7 in a game in 2014, De Villiers gets down on one knee and scoops someone as good as Dale Steyn for a 6 over Long leg. Steyn is surprised but he goes to him and pats his national teammate on his back. There was one more AB vs Steyn battle when the latter was playing for Deccan Chargers and not SunRisers Hyderabad. Steyn bowls full, AB makes room and hits the ball over cover for a maximum. Steyn gets impressed, he smiles and makes a wow expression. The commentator screams ” This guy is magic ” and he is so right. Since 2019, both of them are playing for the same side much to the delight of so many sensible human beings.
And if you think he produces the moment of magics just with his bat then you are so wrong. Go back to IPL 2018 where a depleted but carefree RCB is playing to enjoy more than focusing on the end result. They are treating a Do or die game as just another game, a formula which has worked for them in the previous matches. AB and Moeen Ali have set the stage on fire with their partnership. The target for SRH is 219 and they aren’t doing badly in their chase. Alex Hales, who should’ve been back in the hut is still playing thanks to a shocking umpiring decision. He slogs one to Deep midwicket which is most likely going over the ropes for just another 6 on that day. AB jumps high, the camera stops following the ball as he has caught a blinder. Everyone watching the game on this planet goes wow as he or she should. The period is all about Marvel as they have released Avengers Infinity War just three weeks ago in theaters but it is AB De Villiers who is keeping the DC franchise alive with his Supermanesque efforts.
And then 6 days later, he produces another shocking moment. This time, people are saying what the f*** and not wow. AB De Villiers has announced his retirement at 34. He says he is tired. Yes, even the superman or alien or whatever people call him gets tired. It is shocking, heartbreaking but since it is his personal decision, nothing can be done about it. More than 18 months later, reports emerge as he can be making a comeback to the South African side to play T20 cricket. And what better day to make a comeback than his very own birthday? One can only hope though. Here is wishing a very happy 36th birthday to the genius. Comeback or no comeback, cricket world will not discriminate in adoring this phenomenon.