AB de Villiers in action for RCB. Pic: IPLT20.COM
South African legend AB de Villiers has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. Taking to Twitter on Friday, De Villiers wrote that, at 37, the flame is no longer burning brightly for him.
De Villiers made a name for himself as a successful international cricketer. He kept plying his trade in franchise cricket post international retirement, none more prominently than in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Taking to Twitter to announce his decision to quit, De Villiers wrote:
“It has been an incredible journey, but I have decided to retire from all cricket. Ever since the back yard matches with my older brothers, I have played the game with pure enjoyment and unbridled enthusiasm. Now, at the age of 37, that flame no longer burns so brightly.”
Who can take over from De Villiers at RCB?
De Villiers was a key figure in the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) middle-order for a number of years and was, arguably, their biggest match-winner with the willow.
While it would be next to impossible to replace a genius like De Villiers, here are three players RCB could look to target at the auction to try and fill the massive void.
#1 Suryakumar Yadav
Team India batter Suryakumar Yadav. Pic: Getty Images
Among the current crop of batters in the IPL, Suryakumar Yadav seems best suited to take over De Villiers’ role in RCB’s batting department. He has ample experience in winning matches for Mumbai Indians (MI) in recent years and has started performing the task for India as well.
The biggest advantage with Suryakumar is that he can bat anywhere in the order, as per the demands of the team. And he can win games for the side from tough situations. De Villiers was an expert at the same. He could come in the middle overs and rescue a faltering innings or walk in at the death and go berserk.
Considering the plethora of options that MI have with regards to retaining players, there is a decent chance of them releasing Suryakumar. If that happens, RCB must go all out to grab his services and fit him into the role that De Villiers performed spectacularly, year after year.
#2 Shimron Hetmyer
Shimron Hetmyer batting for Delhi Capitals. Pic: Getty Images
Shimron Hetmyer for De Villiers doesn’t sound a like-for-like replacement. It never can be. However, the West Indian left-hander is someone who can be groomed for the role. In his short career so far, Hetmyer has demonstrated enough ability to be earmarked as the next big thing in West Indies cricket.
The 24-year-old scored a sparkling 81 not out off 54 balls in the T20 World Cup 2021 encounter against Sri Lanka, albeit in a losing cause. Even in IPL 2021, Hetmyer played some blazing knocks for Delhi Capitals (DC).
His unbeaten 53 off 25 gave RCB a massive scare in the first half of IPL 2021 in a match in Ahmedabad. Incidentally, De Villiers was the player of the match in that game for hammering 75 not out off 42 as RCB won the contest by one run.
Hetmyer has all the big strokes in the book to win games for the team from near-impossible situations, something which De Villiers prided himself on. Of course, he will need to do a lot of work on his consistency and shot selection to turn into a genuine match-winner. The basic ingredients, though, are in place.
#3 Aiden Markram
Aiden Markram in action during the T20 World Cup 2021. Pic: Getty Images
How about a South African replacing a South African at RCB? Among the current crop of Proteas batters, Aiden Markram looks highly aggressive and is consistent as well. His compact stroke play and calmness under pressure has impressed many critics.
The 27-year-old made his debut for Punjab Kings during the second half of the IPL 2021 season, replacing England’s Dawid Malan. He registered more than decent returns, scoring 146 runs in six games at a strike rate of 122.68. Markram could have done better, but he often found himself in a tough situation, trying to keep a faltering innings in tact.
The true batting quality of Markram was on display during the T20 World Cup 2021 when he registered scores of 40, 51* and 52*. He played the kind of knocks De Villiers mastered while representing both his country and his IPL franchise.
Coming in towards the second half of the innings, Markram found the boundaries at will in the end overs to lift South Africa’s scoring rate. Definitely not a bad choice for RCB, who will be desperate for someone to fill De Villiers’ giant shoes.