AB de Villiers always put his team first, says Domingo

In a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday, former South Africa coach Russell Domingo opened up on his former ward AB de Villiers.

Russell Domingo believes that A.B. de Villiers must have taken the big decision to be with his family. (File Photo)   -  PTI

As AB de Villiers walks into retirement from international cricket, the cricketing fraternity is yet to come to terms with the fact that the South African superstar would not be seen on the field again.

However, former South Africa chief coach, Russell Domingo, who has seen de Villiers from closest quarters during his five-year coaching stint with the Proteas, believes that the batsman must have taken the big decision to be with his family.

In a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday, Domingo opened up on his former ward.

READ: VVS Laxman not suprised by AB de Villiers’ decison to retire

Excerpts...

How do you see AB de Villiers' decision to quit international cricket all of a sudden?

He must have taken the decision after a lot of thought. Family time comes first and he's been under a lot of pressure for the last few years. It is a massive blow for the national team, but I respect his decision.

With the World Cup a year away, won't it put South Africa in a bit of spot when it comes to choosing a replacement?

The last series against India was a blessing in disguise. As a few of our players were injured or they missed out, South Africa was able to look at some fringe players. Aiden Markram started playing, then there was Heinrich Klassen. That's a massive thing for the youngsters and they would at least have some international cricket in their name before the World Cup begins.

Yet, having spent a long time with de Villiers, what do you think could be the reason behind such a decision?

Family life. He's got two kids now and he has travelled too much and has played so much cricket and that's why he, perhaps, has thought that its time to prioritise his family which he has always done. He thinks now it's important to spend more time with family.

ALSO READ: Fastest ODI hundred, 278 not out - De Villiers' best knocks

As we speak, you sound quite emotional. Is there any particular moment that you cherish with de Villiers?

I always remember the series-deciding ODI against India in Mumbai in 2015. At the Wankhede Stadium, he got a hundred along with Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock. That was one of his best ODI hundreds I have seen. He was striking the ball fantastically. He was emotional and was pumped up as it was a big stadium, with so many people watching it. That was one of his best innings.

The world knows de Villiers as a thorough professional cricketer, but how has he been with his team-mates in the dressing room?

He is just a normal guy and I don't think he quite likes all the fanfare that goes around him and all the attention he gets. He is just like anyone else, but an unbelievable cricketer. At times, he gets shy with the attention he gets and that's why he becomes introverted. My memories will always be that he's a nice guy and a true team man who puts the team first.

There has always been a bit of tragedy with the South African team as most of its star cricketers have bowed out of international cricket but repent not being able to win a World Cup. Now, even de Villiers joins the list...

I would not say it's a tragedy. All those cricketers had great careers, though they would have loved to win the World Cup. Some players are still there and would be in the World Cup. We have always produced great cricketers in South Africa and we will continue to produce talented cricketers in ODIs. One day, one of those cricketers will help us have a hand on the World Cup.