De Villiers set to continue playing IPL

Fans needn’t worry about De Villiers disappearing entirely from their TV screens in the wake of his surprise retirement earlier this year, with the 34-year-old South African acknowledging that participation in the IPL forms part of his post-retirement plan.

De Villiers has been a staple of the IPL tournament since it’s inauguration back in 2008, playing at least some role in every single season since. Initially a member of the Delhi Daredevils, the star batsman moved across to Royal Challengers Bangalore after three seasons. He has been a dominant force in the league, racking up a huge 3,953 runs in 141 matches over his 11 years in the tournament, enough to place him tenth in the all-time leading run scorers list for the IPL.

He has averaged 39.53 in this time, the sixth highest number out of the top 50 run scorers in IPL history, and notched them at the incredible strike rate of 150.93, the second highest number out of the top 50 run scorers. These numbers are testament to the supreme skill of the man, and highlight why his continued commitment to the league is such a positive.

De Villiers didn’t confirm that he would continue to play in the league to which he has given so much when he initially announced his retirement. Instead, he committed only to continuing to play locally in South Africa, for his domestic side in the Titans. At the time, he stated that he didn’t have any plans to continue playing overseas. Fortunately for cricket fans around the globe, that appears to have changed.

The move adds the South African legend to the ever-growing list of cricketers continuing to play in the IPL after their International retirements. Shane Watson was perhaps the most dominant example in the 2018 edition of the IPL. He retired from International cricket and has played the three IPL seasons since, and though he struggled in 2016-17 he bounced back in emphatic fashion this season. In his 15 matches he tallied the fifth most runs in the competition at the huge strike rate of 154.59, and also snared a few wickets. 

Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum retired in the same year as Watson, and has also played a major part in the IPL since then. He struggled a little this year, averaging just 21.16 in his six matches, but in 2017 he played 11 games and averaged 29.20 at the impressive strike rate of 145.45.

The final retired International player to feature in the 2018 IPL was former Australian fast bowler, Mitchell Johnson. Johnson, now 36 years of age, retired from International cricket late in 2015, when he was still performing at a high level for Australia. Since then he has been a major fixture in both the Big Bash League in Australia, and the IPL. He hasn’t exactly been a dominant force in the IPL though, and this year he managed just two wickets in six matches while conceding 10.28 runs per over. His 2017 performance was, however, solid enough, and he still may have something to give to the league next year.

What these players have for the most part proved is that it’s entirely possible to continue playing in domestic T20 leagues, even the most high profile and competitive of them all, despite having retired from International duties. The beauty of it is that it allows these players to continue playing high level cricket - and us to continue watching and enjoying them - until a much older age, thanks to the comparatively minor strain on the body playing one or two T20 tournaments a year places. For cricket fans around the globe this is a great thing, and there will no doubt be many AB De Villiers fans pleased that they will have more opportunities to see him on their television screens.

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