Graeme Smith, the former South African Captain, has joined the number of cricket experts to have reacted to the modern day great's sudden and untimely retirement from all international cricket. Smith reiterated that AB de Villiers is an irreplaceable asset for South Africa and World Cricket.
AB de Villiers sent a shock wave across the cricketing world by announcing last week that he is "tired" and can't go on to play international cricket anymore for his country.
Smith talked about his former teammate's retirement and said, "I think AB's thought about it a lot, I thought definitely he would retire after the 2019 World Cup. But when he made his comeback and did so well in the home summer in South Africa, had a really good IPL (Indian Premier League), I didn't even think about it."
"Ultimately people will be very disappointed because they are going to miss him, just because he was that brilliant. They wanted to see him play more, But the guy has played international cricket for around 15 years... More than anything he has the right to decide when he's had enough. He will have his own reasons for that, you got to respect that."
Smith understands the enormity of De Villiers' decision for international cricket, he further said, "It's a challenge international cricket really does face, The way world cricket is at the moment, the International Cricket Council and administrators have to be really at the top of their game in terms of player workloads, creating context in our cricket. There are not many players who have played for 14-15 years that can travel nine, 10, 11 months a year, deal with the pressures, plus the family pressures, it's very, very difficult."
"To lose a player like AB, he's irreplaceable,There are also quality players there but it's like taking Virat Kohli (India captain) out of the Indian team. Everyone will say it's a big loss. More than anything the South African team loses an X-factor player, who can single-handedly win you a game."
Smith is well aware of the problems that South African cricket will be facing after the retirement of AB de Villiers.
"I think South African cricket is going to find itself in a very interesting phase in the next year or so, I don't think the talent pool is quite as good as what it has been for a period of time"
"If a couple of players walk away after the 2019 World Cup, it's going to take a little bit of time for the team to rebuild. It's going to be interesting to see players like Hashim and Faf if they play for another year or two after the World Cup. If they don't, it's going to be a challenging period and something South African cricket needs to be aware of."