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AB de Villiers - The story of a South African genius

ANALYST
Feature
3.28K   //    05 May 2015, 15:34 IST
AB de Villiers en route to his record 31-ball century against the West Indies

Even if you are an on and off cricket fan, the name Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is certainly one that does not require any recognition. Genius? Freak? Superhuman? Well, whatever you may want to call him, one cannot deny the fact that he is arguably the greatest batsman of the 21st century.

If you sit to compare cricketers to comic book superheroes, de Villiers would certainly qualify as Spiderman. Not only does he have ability and strength, but also a certain amount of friendly neighborhood-ness about him both on and off the field. There are more reasons than one why he has quickly risen through the ranks to become the most trusted Proteas batsman.

Blooded with sports in his veins

AB was born to become a sportsman and his childhood and youth saw him engaged in several sports other than cricket including hockey, rugby, golf and tennis. Although he definitely would have excelled in any other sport as well, he was destined to make a future in cricket. The irony lies in the fact that he is presently showing the game its own future.

When it comes to de Villiers, it is not about the stats, the records or the fame; it’s about the impact that he has made in the way modern-day cricket is played. After all, where can you find a player who can give you a combination of the classical and the freakish in the same innings? Or be clinical and destructive at the same moment?

No area on the cricket field is safe when he is out in the centre. Such is his range that a ball outside off-stump could be crashed through the covers and another one bowled in precisely the same area could disappear over square-leg.

A genius in the ODI game

There is no doubt about the fact that the South African has performed exceptionally in all three formats of the game, but he has made the one-day format his own. With his spectacular repertoire of strokes, he is smashing record after record in ODI cricket. In the course of two innings, both against the West Indies, he achieved the incredible feat of hitting the fastest fifty (16 balls), the fastest century (31 balls) and the fastest 150 (off 64 balls) in one-day internationals. 

Most recently, the master batsman became the fastest to 7000 ODI runs and is also level with Rohit Sharma and Chris Gayle for the record of most sixes (16) in an innings. He came into his own in the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia amassing 482 runs at an average of just under 100 and ended up being the 3rd highest run scorer in the tournament.

An all-rounder

There is really nothing on the cricket field that de Villiers cannot do. Apart from being a class act with the bat, he is also an exceptional fielder and can easily be rated among the best today. He has also donned the gloves and stood behind the stumps for the Proteas for a considerable amount of time following Mark Boucher’s forced retirement until he recently handed over the responsibility to youngster Quinton de Kock.

He is also trying his hand at bowling these days and is capable enough to bowl in a few overs when need be. In addition to all this, AB is currently the skipper of the South African one-day side.

At the age of 31, de Villiers has already covered a lot of distance in his journey to greatness. What remains to be seen is where he will end up once he finally decides to hang up his boots.

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