Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers says he is relieved to have quit international cricket as the pressure was unbearable at times.
The 34-year-old De Villiers, who stunned one and all by retiring in May, says he does not miss the game and is happy to lead a retired life.
“It’s been unbearable at times: the pressure you have to face, performing day in and day out. The expectations that you put on yourself, from fans, from the country, from coaches. It is huge, and it’s something that’s on your mind all the time as a cricketer,” de Villiers said.
De Villiers will continue to play for his IPL team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“I know nothing will compare to that feeling of scoring hundreds in a big game. Thousands of people chanting your name. But in all fairness, it’s definitely something that I’m not going to miss. Not yet. I’m very happy to have stepped away. Absolutely no regrets,” he told ‘The Independent’ newspaper.
Asked if there is a certain relief now that he has retired from international cricket, de Villiers said, “Massively. Yes. I know the right answer is probably to say I will always miss the game.
“But I truly believe that players who tell you they don’t feel the pressure of international cricket, being away from home for months at a time, are lying to everyone and themselves,” said the the 34-year-old swashbuckling batsman who scored 8765 runs from 114 Tests at an average of 50.66 with the help of 22 hundreds.
Since making his Test debut against England in 2004, de Villiers has, on many occasions, been the South African team’s wicket-keeper, its best fielder, its best batsman, and its captain.
“I was prepared to embrace it, to fight the pressure. And I’m happy that I did. But it certainly takes his toll after a while. I feel there is room for players to be more honest about it, having systems in place to make sure they keep fresh and mentally healthy,” he said.
“I was certainly not mentally ill at the time, but I can relate to the fact that pressure can really drive you down, and make you so tired.”
De Villiers, who also scored 9577 runs from 228 ODIs at an average of 53.50 with 25 centuries, said he remains a shy personality who does not enjoy spotlight.
“I’ve always been shy. I don’t really like attention too much. It’s quite ironic. But I get embarrassed quite a bit. I prefer to be out of the spotlight, to be honest. I’ve always been that kind of personality.
“When I became captain of the Proteas, things changed a bit. But I’ve always enjoyed having some personal time away from the game. Those are the kinds of things I really enjoy.”
De Villiers said he is happy playing the odd T20 tournament, doing bits and pieces of promotional work, and nurturing young cricketers.
“I’ve always been a fan of helping some of the Associate nations. You’ve seen some fantastic talent coming through of late: Rashid Khan, one of the best leg-spinners in the world at the moment. I believe it’ll go from strength to strength.
“I’m still going to play for a few years; I’ll still play a little bit around the world. But on my own terms,” he signed off.