AB de Villiers retires: A late bloomer who never looked back, a statistical analysis of Mr 360's international career

  • Umang Pabari
  • May 25th, 2018
  • 18:02:59 IST

AB de Villiers left the cricketing world stunned by announcing his retirement from international cricket on Wednesday just the way he does with his cricketing shots on the field.

The announcement came few days after his IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore’s exit from the ongoing Indian Premier League and it shocked everyone especially with just one year remaining for 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. It took around 22 years for Sachin Tendulkar to reach there but de Villiers’ reason behind the decision reveals the hectic schedule cricketers have to face these days.

As the sun sets on a glorious career, here’s a look at his international career with the help of few numbers.

There are three formats in cricket – Test, ODI and T20I but for de Villiers, there was only one. He had his own method of scoring runs, hitting sixes effortlessly, often sending balls to kiss stadiums’ roofs and earning respect from opposition teams on the field. Adaptability was his strength, while changing the face of the match was his nature. He had his fair share of successes and failures like every other sports person. His records are unique just like this shots and fielding attempts. For instance, among players who have played at least 100 ODIs and 100 Tests, AB de Villiers is the only player to have an average above 50 in each of those two formats.


Just like most of the cricketers, the beginning of his international cricket was average in both Tests and ODIs. In ODIs, if we break his career down in two parts then we can have two distinct sections — one till 2009 and one after 2009. He scored 34.74 runs every innings on an average from his ODI debut till 2009. However, since 2010 till his retirement, he amassed 50.27 runs every innings on an average and with a better strike rate. This proves that it’s not how you begin, but it’s how you end that matters the most. de Villiers is the only player to have an average of above 50 and a strike rate of above 100 in ODI cricket among players with a cut-off 1000 ODI runs.


de Villiers played 114 Tests for South Africa – the fifth most by any player. It can be broken into three parts and we can see the difference which says the same story as it was in ODI cricket. AB de Villiers became better day by day, his average augmented year after year and he broke records match after match. There is a difference of 27.67 between his average in his first 38 Tests and from 39th-76th Test which is massive improvement for any cricketer. He scored nine hundreds from his last 38 Tests but he scored only one Test ton since 2015 while playing 16 Tests during the period which is intriguing.


The following list is an elite list. It includes legends of the game and AB de Villiers is at the second place in the list. It speaks about the consistency with which he has performed over the years for his country, irrespective of any particular format. It reveals that Kumar Sangakkara is the only other player than AB de Villiers who has scored 20,000-plus runs since the South African's Test debut.


AB de Villiers’ success in multi-nation ODI tournaments is massive and often goes unnoticed. His country may have missed out on winning multi-nation ODI tournaments but de Villiers is one of the three players who averages above 50 in multi-nation ODI tournaments.


There are many qualities that make AB de Villiers great, but his consistency still stands out. Only Jacques Kallis won more Man of the Match awards than AB de Villiers for South Africa in ODI cricket but he played 100 more ODIs than de Villiers and won only five more such awards. AB de Villiers won a Man of the Match award after approximately every eight ODIs for his country – the fourth least for any player among players who have won at least 20 MoM awards in ODI cricket.


He was not just a great player but he also led South Africa in 124 international matches. His win percentage of about 55, puts him above many great players who were not as good captains as they were players but for de Villiers, it was a different story. AB de Villiers is South Africa’s fourth most successful captain in international cricket.


Here’s a look at some of the significant records which he holds currently in international cricket.

- He has scored 21 centuries in ODI cricket batting at No.4 or lower – the most by any player.
- He holds the record of scoring the fastest fifty (off 16 balls v WI, Johannesburg, 2015), fastest hundred (off 31 balls v WI, Johannesburg, 2015) and fastest 150 (off 64 balls v WI, Sydney, 2015) in ODI cricket.
- Among the wicketkeepers who batted in at least 25 innings, he has the best batting average in both Tests and ODIs - 57.41 in Tests and 70.54 in ODIs.
- He holds the record of claiming the joint most dismissals as a wicket-keeper in a Test match (11 against Pakistan at Johannesburg in 2013).

Updated Date: May 25, 2018 18:02:59 IST

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