South Africa's AB de Villiers announced his sudden retirement from international cricket in May 2018. He had been one of the key batsmen of the South African lineup across all the formats of the game at that point, and his retirement left the fans in shock.
The South African cricket team felt his absence ever since, and their campaign in the 2019 World Cup took a big hit as a result, as the Proteas finished a disappointing 7th in the table.
Faf du Plessis, who was South Africa's captain at the time of de Villiers' retirement, and who has been a friend of the AB's since childhood, opened up on the conversation he had with the South African superstar over his retirement.
He admitted that it was a tough time for him as captain when AB retired. He also revealed the conversation he had with de Villiers.
"When AB left, it was really tough for me. Because I depended a lot on him as a friend. And obviously, the base plan of the team, we needed his skill," said Faf, in an interaction with Ravichandran Ashwin on his official YouTube channel.
"That conversation was, when he said that to me as a friend, he said that he was done, finished with international cricket. As a friend, my first instinct was, I'm here for you. I'll support you. If you feel like you're at the end of your career and you don't want to do it any more, then that's okay. I support that decision, 100 per cent.
"As a captain, I was like.. (makes angry face). How do we move forward without AB? How do we get the same performance, irrespective? The friend in me trumped the captain in me. And I said, look, we're going to miss you. Are you sure? He was like, 'yes, 100 per cent sure. I don't want to play international cricket any more. I don't have the drive to do it any more. So I'm stopping'.
"I respected that immediately and left it there. I never, ever after that tried to convince him again. Because I respected what he said. Even at times when we desperately needed him."
Du Plessis stepped down from captaincy in 2020, and Quinton de Kock succeeded him.