Calling it quits: AB de Villiers sends the ball to the boundary in the fourth Test against Australia in March. It is a sight South African fans — and those around the world — will miss. Picture: REUTERS
Calling it quits: AB de Villiers sends the ball to the boundary in the fourth Test against Australia in March. It is a sight South African fans — and those around the world — will miss. Picture: REUTERS

And just like that‚ with neither a bang‚ a whimper nor a tear‚ AB de Villiers was gone — retired from all cricket except that played by the Titans.

Some call it quits in emotionally charged rooms filled with their teammates and reporters.

Others are carried out of the game forever on stretchers.

De Villiers announced that he was done in a slickly produced video on his own app that blipped into being on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday.

"Hi‚" he began‚ facing the camera‚ wearing a cap‚ standing on a field and sounding as if he was about to try selling a late-night television audience a set of steak knives.

"This is the Tuks Cricket Club at the high-performance centre in Pretoria‚ where 14 seasons ago I arrived as a nervous youngster when I was first called in to the Proteas squad.

"Today‚ at the same place‚ I want to let you know that I have retired from all international cricket with immediate effect.

"After 114 Test matches‚ 228 one-day internationals and 78 T20 internationals‚ it is time for others to take over.

"I’ve had my turn and to be honest I’m tired.

"This is a tough decision. I’ve thought long and hard about it‚ and I’d like to retire while still playing decent cricket. After the fantastic series wins against India and Australia‚ now feels the right time to step aside. It would not be right for me to pick and choose where and when‚ and in what format‚ I play for the Proteas. For me‚ in green and gold it must be everything or nothing.

"It’s not about earning more somewhere else. It’s about running out of gas and feeling that it’s time to move on. Everything comes to an end.

"I have no plans to play overseas. In fact I hope I can continue to be available for the Titans in domestic cricket‚ and I will remain the biggest supporter of Faf du Plessis and the Proteas."

De Villiers’s legion of supporters in SA‚ India and around the world must have felt as if those steak knives were in their backs. For them the wonder of watching a batsman do the undoable was over. When will they see his like again?

But for those who have spent much of the past 14 years hearing De Villiers sometimes clicking through the cliché gears, struggling to express himself as well as he wanted to in his second language or not quite making sense‚ this was an all too polished performance — even for someone who has made a stellar career out of delivering polished performances.

How much time passed between De Villiers making up his mind and the highly professional production of the video‚ which includes cutaway shots and fades and could indeed be used to sell something? Something‚ perhaps‚ such as sincerity.

To have "no plans to play overseas" doesn’t mean he has committed himself to turning down new offers from elsewhere that are too good to refuse.

Similarly‚ "I hope I can continue to be available for the Titans" does not mean that he will be available.

As for‚ "It would not be right for me to pick and choose where and when‚ and in what format‚ I play for the Proteas"‚ how wasn’t that exactly what De Villiers was doing when he opted out of the 17 Tests SA played between August 2016 and October 2017?

De Villiers’s decision will be greeted as the end of SA’s hopes of winning the 2019 World Cup and the beginning of the end of the team’s time at or near the top.

It might be neither‚ but it will stagger a game that has seen too many fine players end their careers in too short a time for South African cricket’s own good.

In less than six years Mark Boucher‚ Jacques Kallis‚ Graeme Smith‚ Kyle Abbott‚ Morné Morkel and now De Villiers have taken their final bows for the national team.

De Villiers will leave the biggest hole because he had as much audacity as he had talent and skill.

The others had the talent and the skill‚ but no-one had the audacity of De Villiers.

"His records and statistics are a true measure of the skill and brilliance he brought to the crease‚" a Cricket SA media release read.

"He has a phenomenal number of milestones to his name: the world record for the fastest ODI 50 (16 balls)‚ 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls)‚ the second-highest individual Test score for SA (278 not out)‚ the highest points (935) by a South African in the Test rankings‚ and he has claimed the coveted South African Cricketer of the Year award twice (in 2014 and 2015).

"He retires with an incredible Test average of 50.66 and as the fourth-highest run-scorer for SA with 8,765 runs."

Bangs‚ whimpers and tears have and will be heard and seen about De Villiers’ retirement.

But none‚ it seems‚ from De Villiers.

TimesLIVE

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