The right-handed batter had proposed to his wife Danielle Swart at the iconic Taj Mahal back in 2012 when he was in the sub-continent country for the IPL.

AB de Villiers gave up playing for his country three years ago while still at the top of his game and after being pivotal in a Test series victory over Australia. Then, he spoke about the demands playing placed on him and his family, particularly for a player who was one of the first names on South Africa’s team sheet in every format and for every series.

He represented Royal Challengers Bangalore for a decade after first signing for them in 2011 and had three years to concentrate on playing for them after giving up internationals. There, he struck up a close friendship and highly productive on-field partnership with India captain Virat Kohli. De Villiers also played T20 cricket for teams in Australia, Pakistan, and Barbados toward the end of his career.

“I am aware that nothing would have been possible without the sacrifices made by my family … I look forward to the next chapter of our lives when I can truly put them first,” de Villiers said on Friday.

De Villiers played top-level cricket for 17 years and at times balanced the role of top batsman with duty as a wicketkeeper, and if not behind the stumps he was one of the best fielders in any team. He also captained South Africa.

The phrase most associated with him was “a 360-degree batsman” — meaning he could hit the ball anywhere, such was the range of his shots and talent.

De Villiers considered coming out of international retirement this year to play for South Africa at the T20 World Cup, but he and Cricket South Africa couldn’t reach an agreement, meaning there wouldn’t be one last hurrah for de Villiers on the big stage.

Still, “cricket has been exceptionally kind to me,” de Villiers said.

His wife Danielle de Villiers also posted a heartfelt note for her husband.

“My love, where do I even begin? It has been an honor and a privilege to be your partner and watch you as you journeyed through your incredibly successful career over the past 14 years. Your love and passion for the game are matchless. Your insane talent… Well, there I really am at a loss for words. You are untouchable.”

“Through all the highs and praise you’ve received, you have always remained the most humble human being that I know. And through all the lows and disappointments (and there were many) you never gave up. You always looked up, stood up, and fought back stronger. You can be at peace now knowing that all you ever gave was your EVERYTHING. I saw it first-hand,” Danielle de Villiers added.

“I have learned so much from you, and I’m not the only one. You have impacted so many lives in the most inspiring way. Through cricket, but also because of the man that you are and your faith that radiates in everything you do. I would have supported you for 20 more years if that’s what your heart wanted, but now I will continue to stand by your side and hold your hand as we embark upon our next chapter. I know you will find great success in everything you take on!”

“Ek is so, so trots op jou my engel. Jy is ons hero, en dit sal jy vir altyd bly,” Danielle de Villiers signed off.

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