Qantas Tour of South Africa

De Villiers reveals secrets to his success

Proteas champion rates this year's Port Elizabeth hundred against Australia as his finest knock

Cricket Network

19 August 2018, 06:54 PM AEST

South Africa superstar AB de Villiers has opened up on the secrets that made him one of the game's most captivating players and declared his final Test century against Australia as his greatest.

De Villiers stunned the game by announcing his retirement from international cricket in May, at age 34 and with a 50-over World Cup to be played in 2019.

AB de Villiers calls time for Proteas

He's recently revealed the pressures and burdens of being an icon of the game had on him which lead to his retirement, but will continue to ply his trade in T20 leagues, primarily in the IPL where he partners with Virat Kohli at the Royal Challengers Bangalore on a A$2.2m annual contract.

The dynamic right-hander scored more than 20,000 international runs, and seamlessly blended the endurance of Test cricket with the innovation of the shorter formats.

"I base my plan on the same fundamentals and the same basics in all three of the formats that I play in," de Villiers told the UK's Telegraph.

"I've never changed that. The only thing that changes is my mindset a little bit at times.

"I've always kept it very simple. I'm a big believer that basics stay the same for all the formats. I don't overthink things.

"I want my mind to be 100 per cent clear so I try not to think about too many things.

"I'll have a bit of a pre-ball routine. I'll make my mark, and then once I switch on and the bowler's coming in, I try and think of absolutely nothing.

"I try and make sure that I see the ball coming out of the bowler's hands, and then my technique and my body take over. I clear my mind and see the ball out of the bowler's hand – that's all I think about in all three of the formats."

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De Villiers said he believed it was still "possible to have a career in all three formats today" and said the Test format gave him the most satisfaction, with runs against Australia giving him the most joy.

"I think my most memorable knocks have always been in the longer version of the game – Test cricket – and none better than that last hundred that I scored in PE (Port Elizabeth) against the Australians.

"That was the most enjoyable series in my life. I had doubts that I would come back, I always wanted to just come and play for another season or two.

"I wasn't 100 per cent sure that I'm going to finish after the Australian series, but the plan was to come back, and I'm really proud of the fact that I could come back and played two of my best series for my country."

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After Australia bossed the opening Test in Durban, the Proteas had slumped to 6-183 before de Villiers intervened with what he now rates his finest innings. It was a stunning display, an unbeaten 126 that gave the Proteas the ascendency, and turned the series.

De Villiers said his "100 per cent passion and love for the sport" was the key to a 14-year international career.

“I've had that from a very young age, and I don't think it's something you can teach a youngster – it’s just a deep desire and a hunger and a love for something that you’re never going to give up," he said.

"So I was always going to try as much as I can, as hard as I could, to become the best player in the world."

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He said finding the balance between training and maintaining high energy levels for matches in a hectic schedule was crucial for him, and something he only developed with age and experience.

"I realised at the age of 28, 29 that I felt my game was in a really good place. But I needed to have energy on the pitch, otherwise I would also leave some of my performance there," he said.

"So my training became really important to me, but I’ve managed it really well.

"They were short and sweet training sessions – making sure that I do quality stuff, but not for long – and I take the confidence into the game with a lot of energy."