The cricket fraternity was taken by a storm when South African cricketer AB de Villiers called it a day from international cricket. The decision raised many eyebrows and indubitably broke thousands of hearts as the genius of contemporary cricket had a wide fan following across the globe. Just like his extra-ordinary strokes across the field that left the fans bewildered, his retirement did have a similar impact. Out of the blue, De Villiers bid goodbye to international cricket.

On Twitter, De Villiers wrote, “After 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20Is it is time for others to take over. I’ve had my turn and to be honest I’m tired.”

De Villiers is far superior when it comes to pure cricketing skills. Is there anything he cannot do on a cricket field? The answer is a simple NO. He is the best batsman of this generation, can keep wickets, a live-wire on the field and has also rolled his arms with the ball. He has mastered it all.

AB de Villiers, the superman with over 20,000 international runs, the man with fastest ODI fifty, century and 150, the man who averages over 50 in both Tests and ODIs won’t be featuring in international circuit again. Saying that De Villiers’ retirement is a heartbreak would be an understatement; it is even more painful to write that De Villiers won’t be donning the South African jersey again.

AB de Villiers was the ultimate genius of the game redefining batsmanship in every format. He had an uncanny knack of snatching improbable victories from imminent jaws of defeat. He could change the course of the game in no time and had a rare ability of manufacturing strokes that were difficult for mere mortals to even think of. He had all the strokes in his batting syllabus and also the ones that have never been taught in any coaching manual.

De Villiers had the ability to play all the strokes flawlessly, at the same time, he could hit a fast bowler for a six over fine leg. He was unblemished when it came to orthodox cricket and a beast in improvising unconventional strokes; such was the aura of De Villiers. He was a fine combination of brute force and finesse. His strokes violated the very laws of physics.

There is a list of qualities that made De Villiers a class apart. He was versatile, could manipulate the field with perfection, a cool and composed mind, and a supercomputer for a human brain. He operated in a different manner. De Villiers’ departure is a huge loss for international cricket, a loss that cannot be filled.

Let’s take a look at some of his extra-ordinary records. He is the man with fastest ODI 50, 100 and 150. He shares the record of scoring the most number of sixes in an innings – 16, along with Chris Gayle and Rohit Sharma. He is also the only batsman to average 50 above in ODIs for seven consecutive years (2009-2015). De Villiers is also the only batsman to average 50 above in ODIs at a staggering strike-rate of above 100 in 50 above ODI innings.

De Villiers could do anything at the crease. You name it, and he has it. He could slog sweep a fast bowler from outside off stump for a six over square leg. His straight driving technique was watertight. He batted for ten hours in the scorching heat of Abu Dhabi and showed monk-like temperament to save a Test in Adelaide. As a wicketkeeper in ODIs, De Villiers averages 70.54 at a blistering strike-rate of over 100.

Generally, cricketers hung their boots when the going gets tough or due to ageing. But De Villiers wasn’t struggling to get runs nor was his fitness an issue at the age of 34. He dominated with the bat in the recent times and ran like a horse between the wickets. He threw his towel while he was still at his prime, that’s the class, flair and sportsman spirit De Villiers possesses. He was outstanding in the Test series against India and Australia and won matches single-handedly for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recently concluded Indian Premier League. He gave up at his best and has earned the right to decide what he wanted.

Of course, South Africa have a huge void to fill, especially in the upcoming World Cup. Nobody can replace De Villiers, there isn’t anyone like him, and he is a unique cricketer. It will be interesting to see if Mr.360 will feature in franchise based T20 leagues in the future as fans would be dying to see him back in action.

As a cricket enthusiast, I’m proud to say that I lived in a generation of AB de Villiers. I was fortunate enough to watch him bat, live. I saw him making a mockery of best of the bowling attacks. Cricket might produce more talented batsmen in the future, but there will be no other AB de Villiers. The game of cricket has not seen a more skilful and a gifted player ever, and it’s unlikely if there will one ever be.