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On a New Pitch: AB de Villiers And Ashleigh Barty to Team up For Icons Series Golf Event

AFP

Last Updated: May 04, 2022, 09:27 IST

Ashleigh Barty (left) and AB de Villiers (Agencies)

Ashleigh Barty (left) and AB de Villiers (Agencies)

De Villiers first met avid cricket fan Barty when he was playing in Australia's Big Bash League in 2019 and they will meet again when they team up in the inaugural Icons Series golf event in Jersey City

Ashleigh Barty’s retirement in March when she was women’s tennis number one and just 25 years old is a “weird one to explain”, South African cricket legend AB de Villiers has told AFP in an interview before they team up for a golf event.

Barty’s relatively short career contrasts with that of the 38-year-old de Villiers, who, after well over a decade at the top, only retired from all formats of international cricket in 2018 and from the game entirely last year.

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De Villiers first met avid cricket fan Barty when he was playing in Australia’s Big Bash League in 2019 and they will meet again when they team up in the inaugural Icons Series golf event in Jersey City from June 30 to July 1.

A Freddie Couples-captained Team USA will compete against a Rest of the World team — skippered by ‘The Big Easy’ Ernie Els, one of de Villier’s sporting idols — with 14 sporting stars in each line-up.

While Barty and keen golfer de Villiers are in the Rest of the World Team, swimming legend Michael Phelps is among those in Team USA.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Barty — who de Villiers describes as having become a friend — has already taken one break from tennis, playing cricket instead for Brisbane Heat during the 2015-16 Women’s Big Bash.

But this time around, the exit appears to be final.

“It is a weird one to explain,” de Villiers told AFP in a phone interview.

“I think the best answer is that every person has their own way of manoeuvring through their career, some as long as possible. The whole world respects her decision. I would like to think stepping away can be a relief but it is an incredible age to retire at.”

De Villiers was one of those rare birds who averaged over 50 in both Test and one-day international formats.

He says he has not had second thoughts since bringing down the curtain on his stellar career which saw him captain South Africa in all three formats.

“I feel relief sitting here,” he said. “I am feeling quite happy I made the right decision even if I miss the game and will be forever grateful to the sport. But similar to Ash there is a peace of mind where I am at. I am really happy to look back on my career with fond memories. There are no regrets. Yes, I made mistakes but no regrets.”

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first published:May 04, 2022, 09:27 IST
last updated:May 04, 2022, 09:27 IST