Cricket: De Villiers retires

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SOUTH AFRICA's swing bowler Fanie de Villiers announced yesterday that he was retiring from first-class cricket. The 33-year-old veteran said: "I have been playing first-class cricket for 11 years and I've always believed the time to retire is when some people might still miss you. I hope that is the case now."

De Villiers told a news conference, after the second day of the third Test against Pakistan was washed out at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, that he would finish the present match - his 18th Test - and would be available for his province, Northern Titans, for their final four-day match of the season next week, but that would be his last appearance.

De Villiers is one of three squad members facing a disciplinary hearing after the Test, following allegations that he, Pat Symcox and the fitness trainer Paddy Upton racially abused Indian spectators supporting Pakistan at the second Test in Durban last week. All three have vigorously denied the charges. De Villiers denied his retirement had anything to do with the charge.

Having toured Sri Lanka in the 1993-94 season, ostensibly as a one-day bowler, De Villiers made a dramatic impact in Test cricket a few months later when South Africa toured Australia. He will always be remembered for the lead role he played in his country's stunning five-run victory in the second Test in Sydney. With Australia requiring a mere 117 runs for victory in the fourth innings, De Villiers took six wickets as Alan Border's team were dismissed for 111.

South Africa were 262 for seven at the close on the first day. Pakistan lead the series 1-0.