AB de Villiers is without doubt one of the most exciting batsmen in the history of limited-overs cricket. No wonder he’s a fan-favourite not just in Africa, but all over the world; he has enthralled crowds as an international player and also while playing in global T20 leagues.

He has been named the ICC ODI Men’s Player of The Year on three occasions and was also one of Wisden’s players of the decade in 2019. The Protean also holds the record for the fastest ODI hundred and has also recorded the fastest 50 and 150 in ODIs. He’s one of the few batsmen in the world who average above 50 in both ODIs and Tests.

 

ESPN profiles him as a batsman of breathtaking chutzpah and enterprise, and a cricketer with overflowing talent and the temperament to back it up. He was also a brilliant fielder who would happily move behind the stumps into the wicketkeeper’s spot if needed. A fine rugby player, golfer, and tennis player, AB de Villiers’ achievements have established himself as one of South Africa’s greats.

Here’s a complete timeline of his glorious international career:

December 2004: Born in February 1984, former South African under-19 player de Villiers made his Test debut for the national team against England, at Johannesburg. He began his career as an opener alongside then-skipper Graeme Smith.

January 2005: He was dropped down the order and given the wicketkeeper’s gloves in the next Test, when he scored a match-saving half-century at number seven. He was promoted up the order again in the series’ last game, where he scored his first Test century, at Centurion.

 

 

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February 2005: ABD made his ODI debut on the same tour, managing a best score of 20 in his first four innings.

April 2005: He made his first 150-plus Test score, on a tour to West Indies. His 178-run knock at Bridgetown came in an innings victory for South Africa.

March 2006: He scored his first ODI half-century, at Port Elizabeth, against Australia.

December 2006: His unbeaten 92 versus India at Centurion, placed him firmly in his team’s plans for the 2007 World Cup, in West Indies.

April 2007: His maiden ODI century came in an important WC match against West Indies. His 130-ball 146 included 12 fours and five sixes. But his four ducks in the tournament was an embodiment of the inconsistency in his early ODI career.

April 2008: He became the first-ever South African to score a Test double century against India. His 217* in Ahmedabad gave a head start to the visitors in the three-match series.

December 2008: In the first game of a Test series in Australia, De Villiers’s match-winning century helped South Africa chase down the second-highest-ever fourth innings target of 414. It was also South Africa’s first Test victory in Australia in 15 years.

 

 

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January 2009: At Adelaide, on the same tour, he played as wicket-keeper in Mark Boucher’s absence and scored 82 not out from 85 balls to win the ODI series for SA. He was named the man of the match.

March 2009: His 163 against Australia in the return Test series, at home, included a tied record for the most sixes in an over. He consecutively hit four in that over.

April 2009: In the following five-match ODI series against Australia, De Villiers was named Player of the Series, with consistent performances throughout.

June 2010: He scored his 10th Test Century, against West Indies, in St Kitts, and was also named in 2010’s ICC World Test XI later, on the back of a career best 278* versus Pakistan (November 2010) and another century against India (December 2010).

February 2011: He scored the 10th ODI century of his career during the 2011 WC in the Indian subcontinent, against WI, in Delhi. It was also the first of his consecutive WC tons. He became the first South African to score two centuries in a single World Cup, and the fifth overall batsman, after Mark Waugh, Saeed Anwar, Rahul Dravid and Matthew Hayden to score two back-to-back centuries in a single WC.

June 2011: Coach Gary Kirsten announced ABD’s appointment as SA’s new limited-overs captain.

January 2012: He was named Player of the Series against Sri Lanka in a three-match Test series. His aggregate of 353 runs also included a match-winning 160*.

 

 

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March 2012: He was ranked the number one Test batsman in the world.

July 2012: He was appointed full-time wicketkeeper, after a career-ending eye injury to predecessor Mark Boucher.

February 2013: Against Pakistan, he became the first wicketkeeper ever to score a century and claim 10-plus dismissals in the same match.

December 2014: He scored the 20th century of his Test career – a match-winning 152 against the West Indies.

January 2015: ABD scored both the fastest fifty (16 balls) as well as the fastest hundred (31 balls) in the history of ODI cricket. In that innings against the West Indies, he ended up scoring 149 runs in just 44 balls, including 16 sixes.

February 2015: Once again, he targeted the West Indian bowlers, this time in the 2015 WC in Australia. During his 66-ball 162, he became the fastest batsman to score a 150 in ODIs ever.

March 2015: Under his captaincy, SA reached the semi-finals of the WC and were looking all set to play in the final before a game-changing partnership for New Zealand in the dying stages of the match. Despite the heartbreaking loss, ABD clinched the top ranking for ODI batsmen in the world.

January 2016: He was appointed the Test captain after Hashim Amla stepped down from the role.

February 2016: ABD scored the fastest T20 fifty by a South African, during his knock of 79 off 29 balls against England.

October 2017: He scored the last of his 25 ODI centuries – an electrifying 176 off just 104 deliveries against Bangladesh.

March 2018: de Villiers’ 126* against Australia came in a match-winning cause against the Aussies. It was the final Test hundred of his career, which included 22 centuries overall.

 

May 2018: He announced retirement from all forms of international cricket, but later added that he would continue playing in T20 leagues.

May 2019: During South Africa’s poor run in the 2019 WC in England, multiple reports indicated that De Villiers had made himself available for selection for the national team squad ahead of the tournament.

January 2020: Rumours about de Villiers’s comeback to the South African T20I side for the 2020 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup were confirmed by South African director of cricket Graeme Smith and head coach Mark Boucher.

May 2021: Cricket South Africa broke the news that de Villiers would remain retired once and for all. “AB has his reasons, which I respect. Unfortunately, he’s no longer in the mix. I say unfortunately because I think we all agree that he’s still one of the best – if not the best – T20 players in world cricket,” Mark Boucher told The Citizen.

Image source: Instagram/ABD, Twitter/CSA