Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is one of the few batsmen to have played in the modern era who could adapt and play on any sort of pitch. On his day, he had the ability to torment the best bowlers (and even the best bowling attacks) in world cricket.
As his career went along, he came to be known as Mr 360, for his ability to hit shots all around the ground against all kinds of bowlers. He might come across as a wonderful limited-overs batsman but his numbers in Test cricket are stunning as well. He time and again delivered for South Africa in the whites as much as coloured clothing.
de Villiers made his international debut against England in 2004 in a Test match at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth. In that series, he didn’t quite take off but South Africa gave him a full 5-match series and as the series went along he got better and delivered a match-saving performance, scoring 92 and 109 (his maiden Test century).
He did take a break from Test cricket for almost a couple of years so that he could refresh himself and recover from all the niggles.
He looked in terrific form recently and was by far South Africa’s best batsman in the last two Test series (against India and Australia). He looked in wonderful touch even in the IPL but he has finally decided to retire from all forms of international cricket. It was a shocking decision but he feels he is ‘tired’ and has ‘run out of gas’.
Hence, as AB de Villiers goes away from international cricket, we look back at some of his best Test knocks.
Special Mentions – 33 vs Australia (2012 – Adelaide), 217 vs India (2008 - Ahmedabad)
#5 126* vs Australia, Port Elizabeth (2018)
After returning from a two-year hiatus from Test cricket, AB de Villiers was South Africa’s best batsman on show against India on pitches that favoured the quicks a lot as the ball moved around quite a bit. He carried his form into the series against Australia and was the standout South African batsman in the first Test. He scored an unbeaten 71 before he ran out of partners in the first innings.
In the second Test, the Proteas were already 1-0 down in the series and in response to Australia’s first innings score of 243, the South African top-order failed to deliver yet again as they were reduced to 227/7 and it seemed like de Villiers who was batting at one end would once again be left stranded.
The South African No. 4 walked out to bat at 67/2 and once again continued from where he had left off in the first Test. He was fluent as he drove the ball well and countered the threat of the Aussie pacers. He also played Nathan Lyon, who was looking good, quite skilfully. But when the seventh South African wicket fell, de Villiers was on 53. Unlike the first game, he found support as the Proteas lower-order took the hosts to 382.
De Villiers ended with a magnificent 126 and he was unbeaten once again. He was brilliant as he played the Australian trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood with utmost ease. He had a strike-rate of 86.30 in that innings as he set-up the game for South Africa to level the series 1-1.