I announced my retirement from international cricket in May 2018 because I wanted to reduce my workload and spend more time with my wife and young sons. Some have insisted I was motivated purely by money. They are wrong.
It’s never easy to lose. But life is not all sunshine and roses.
I accept that it is not always moonshine and roses, and you can’t expect things must always go your way.
I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan.
You live for those pressure moments. Through an international career, you have ups and downs, but you always feel you are going to be tested in moments like that. It has taken me years to feel comfortable and to feel like I have good composure in those situations.
After 114 Test matches, 228 ODIs, and 78 T20 Internationals, it is time for others to take over. I have had my turn, and to be honest, I am tired.
I watch the ball, and I just play. I have always said that I don’t feel there’s a big difference between the three formats. It is just a mindset, applying yourself to the wicket and conditions, and that’s always been the way that I have played.
I don’t care about hundreds, fifties, averages.
If you don’t learn, especially if you are not playing well, then you are not going to move forward as a team.
I’ve made peace with the fact that the World Cup will not define me. Yes, it would be nice to add that to what’s been a very enjoyable career, but I know it won’t define me as a person or cricketer.
Sometimes you don’t quite realise what you have achieved until you look back.
There are big tournaments going on around the world, and some of them you cannot ignore because, financially, they make a huge difference in our lives.
Yes, I would have loved to win it, but I have great memories from World Cups. The 2007 tournament – my first – was very special.
It’s always been about the team; it’s never been about myself.
My personal goals have always and will always take a backseat to the team.
We all grow up dreaming of playing international cricket.
For my part, I am not a great believer in bad luck on the cricket field, in business – in fact, in any walk of life.
I have always wanted to play at the top of the order.
The fear of failing… not quite the fear of failing, but the uncertainty of whether you are going to perform or not, is there every single game I have played in my life. It will always be there.
There’s a lot of reasons I had to move on. Family’s definitely a big part of it. And the longevity of my career – I played for 15 years, and I was just tired of the whole international scene. It’s quite busy. Very stressful.
It’s important on any English wicket to leave well.
The main lesson I learned from 2015 is that a World Cup doesn’t define a player’s career.
Playing at the highest level alongside your friends, scoring runs for your country are things that I look back and go, ‘Ah, I miss that a little bit,’ but there’s a lot I don’t miss. I don’t miss 90 per cent of it.
I try and keep my feet on the ground and keep working at my game.
For me, in green and gold, it must be everything or nothing.
I like to entertain the crowd. Personally I like to entertain my team-mates first, but when the crowd gets going, it is amazing.
Captaining South Africa was definitely not one of my goals.
It’s tough at slip. The ball doesn’t come to you very often. So from that perspective, I enjoy keeping more – you’re in the game the whole time.
I believe I am strong mentally. My breaking points might be bigger than most players. I think it’s because of the way I grew up with my two older brothers. They pushed my limits quite often – once every day, I think! I think that played a big role in my breaking point being bigger than most players. Not all players.
I try and watch the ball closely. I’ve played the game for many years now, and I know my talent will take over if I just watch the ball and enjoy myself out there.
I’ve always been a people pleaser.
There are lots of mentally very tough players that I have played against and with.
I was brought up to always see the glass half full instead of half empty and played my cricket that way.
I’m not a nice guy on the field, and I’ve never really respected a guy who’s been a ‘nice guy’ on the field. I want opposition to be hard, to play to win the game for their team.
You’ve got to be able to work hard. There must be inner drive that you want to be the best in the world at what you do.
It’s always been the most important thing for me to enjoy my cricket.
I have been massively proud to have played for and, indeed, captain my country on the cricket field.
If I play all the IPL games the whole season, I do get a bit tired towards the end.
I truly love captaining. I’ve grown into enjoying it.
It would not be right for me to pick and choose where, when, and in what format I play for the Proteas.
I love keeping. I’m in the game all the time. I see angles that I wouldn’t normally see, and I feel part of what the captain does.
When I’m fielding at point, I’m running all over that field, and I’m really tired by the end of the innings.
It was a bit of a surprise when the national captaincy came my way.
The World Cup is a tough tournament.
You represent your country – that’s the biggest honour ever. I had the privilege of doing that for more than 14 years.
To cross the line for the team, to have an impact on winning the game – that’s why I play this game.
Money wasn’t the motivating factor in calling time on my international career and focusing on T20 cricket. If I was here to make as much money as I can, I would be playing 10 to 12 tournaments a year.
Even the thunderous master-blasters, like Andre Russell and MS Dhoni, men who now make scoring more than 20 runs per over look simple, often thrive on the right side of an incredibly slender gap between six and out. They are not more lucky than anyone else. They are more brilliant.
I have played incredible knocks with the lightest of bats.
It’s a huge honour to play my 100th Test, and I never in my life thought I’ll be in this kind of position.
Test cricket is the ultimate challenge.
I often speak about tennis being one of the most important sports when I was growing up, for my hand-eye coordination and quick feet.
The interests of the team must always outweigh the interests of any individual, including me.
For some guys, playing for the team will mean achieving more personally.
From a personal standpoint, my ability to play all around the wicket is more mindset than anything else.
An IPL match may be decided when the ball passes inches beyond the grasp of a fielder on the boundary or when a direct hit catches a batsman inches short of the crease.
I’m not the kind of guy who cares how many hundreds I’ve scored.
The most important people to please are your family.
In my heart, international cricket is the way forward. That’s where you want to play; that’s where the pressure really lies. That’s where you make your name.
As a captain, I can’t make the same mistake twice. As a player, you can get away with that, but if the captain does that, then it affects the whole team.
It’s important to make sure your players have the mindset that playing international cricket is still the ultimate form of cricket.
I feel I handle the pressure situations well, and that’s why I want to be there at the end.
I believe all teams choke in certain situations.
I know Test cricket is more about endurance. T20 is more about innovating, creating, and the energy at the wicket.
I’ll do whatever it takes for us to win games of cricket. If I have to sledge, I’ll get involved like that. I’ll try and intimidate a player if I have to.
I think I have a natural hitting ability.
Wrong is wrong. Guys try to find a way to get the ball to reverse, but you have to stay in the laws.
I had a long run as a captain. I had some fantastic ups and also quite a few lows in between.
I know nothing will compare to that feeling of scoring hundreds in a big game.
I’ve always been shy.
I do enjoy fielding.
We want to swing the ball as much as we can. We try and get it to reverse, putting more sweat on one side and things like that. But we don’t cheat.
I don’t really like attention too much.
I don’t overthink things.
I can’t keep playing 10-11 months a year and keep being sharp after 15 years of international cricket.
If you pick up that information, the first metre or two, the ball coming out of the hand, you can analyse what’s coming.
Obviously I want to be there at the end every time, winning games for the team.
I’m a bit undercooked when it comes to keeping in Test cricket, but I’ve had a lot of experience in T20 and ODIs for my country, and my keeping has improved a lot.
It’s never been about my own runs. If I can score as many as possible to get us into a position to win, then I’ll be a very happy man.
Far from being a mere consequence of winning, strong team spirit is an essential ingredient of sporting success; it comes before, not afterwards.
I rest a bit more when I keep. The only thing I have to look after is my back and using different muscle groups.
I will continue to be the biggest supporter of Faf du Plessis and the Proteas.
I just try and earn my right to get on top of the bowlers, and that is how I play every game.
Winning an official World Cup with the South African team had become my burning ambition.
Nothing comes close to the IPL, to be honest.
In all kinds of sports, you have to get the confidence going within before you can start proving people wrong or right.
I will always be grateful to the coaches and staff of Cricket South Africa for their support through all these years.
It will never be much fun until a Proteas team finally goes out and wins one of these ICC limited-overs tournaments. That will happen one day.
I know my game pretty well, and that is the secret to success in most sports.
My mindset in all three formats, in any situation, is exactly the same. I just want to get myself in, get myself a nice foundation to hopefully attack and dominate the bowlers.
I truly believe that players who tell you they don’t feel the pressure of international cricket, of being away from home for months at a time, are lying to everyone and themselves.
I prefer to be out of the spotlight, to be honest. I’ve always been that kind of personality.
I’ve always kept it very simple. I’m a big believer that basics stay the same for all the formats.
I know what makes me good, and it’s not a bat.
It’s not really part of the game to say, ‘Oh, it’s a batter’s game; it’s a batter’s game’ – I don’t know why it goes on. It’s a beautiful game that’s greatly competitive between bat and ball.
Every wicket you play on is different.
Obviously, international cricket is the main cricket you want to play, especially Test cricket.
I don’t like to celebrate my own achievements.