Many talk about it, yet few do it.
AB de Villiers retired from international cricket on Wednesday while still at the top of his game as one of the best batsmen in the world.
Although de Villiers' batting, which dazzled audiences across the world over a 14-year international career, was still as good as it ever was, the demands of international cricket were too much.
"It is time for others to take over. I've had my turn and, to be honest, I'm tired," de Villiers said in a video posted on his official Twitter account announcing his retirement.
The 34-year-old de Villiers made the announcement from his home town of Pretoria, where he has spent his domestic career playing for the Titans. He said he would still play for the Titans, but there would be no more international cricket or Indian Premier League.
"It's not about earning more somewhere else, it's about running out of gas and feeling like it's time to move on," he said. "Everything comes to an end." De Villiers said he had no plans to play overseas.
South Africans were expecting de Villiers to end his test career any time now, especially after back-to-back series wins over top-ranked India and fierce rival Australia in the last four months. He had been expected to play one-day internationals and have one more go at winning a World Cup title next year.
"This is a tough decision," de Villiers said. "I've thought long and hard about it and I'd like to retire while still playing decent cricket. And after the fantastic series wins against India and Australia, now feels like the right time to step aside."
De Villiers was in masterful form in the recent four-test series against Australia, finishing with the highest batting average in the series and almost single-handedly turning the contest in South Africa's favor with 126 not out in the second test. That gave South Africa the impetus to come from behind and win its first series at home over Australia since 1970.
De Villiers had only just returned to tests for the India and Australia series following a near two-year break from the five-day game. The sabbatical was the first sign that cricket was starting to become a burden.
He was also South Africa's captain, wicketkeeper and best fielder at various stages of his career. He could leave spectators gasping with his batting, but also with his fielding, as with the leaping one-handed catch he took on the boundary a few days ago in the IPL.
He had to give up wicket-keeping because of a bad back and the captaincy because of the mental strain.
De Villiers played 114 tests and 228 ODIs, and averaged over 50 in both. He is fourth on the list of South Africa's all-time top run-scorers in test cricket with 8,765 runs. He made 22 centuries and 46 half-centuries. In ODIs, he finished with 9,427 runs, the second-most by a South African, and 25 centuries and 52 half-centuries.
De Villiers was equally comfortable hitting cover drives or going down on one knee and scooping the ball over his head for six. He could thrill fans — and even the great India batsman Sachin Tendulkar — with his invention. The ability to improvise and play outrageous shots gave him world records for the fastest ODI 50 (off 16 balls), 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls).
Cricket South Africa President Chris Nenzani said de Villiers' batting was "sheer brilliance".
Gerald Imray is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP