AB de Villiers – A Batsman Like No Other

There’s not a lot happening at the moment as we wait for the start of the county season. In the meantime, we’re going to bring you a couple of pieces discussing the big names in the game. Today, Sulaiman talks about one of his favourite players, AB de Villiers. And tomorrow, Will has something for you on Virat Kohli and his long-overdue return to form.

With the Indian Premier League due to commence in the near future, I thought it fit to write about one of the finest cricketers we have ever witnessed and a true IPL great. He is none other than former Proteas’ star batsman, AB De Villiers.  

“Thrilling, tenacious, terrific!” These are but a few words that can be used to try, and fail, to describe this cricketing legend. Born in the small town of Bela-Bela, about 170 kilometres north-east of Johannesburg on the 17th of February 1984, De Villiers was destined to be a cricketing great. Excelling in his youth at several sports including rugby, tennis, swimming, golf and cricket, AB was always going to represent his country in some sport or other. Luckily for us, the fans, he chose cricket.

What a career it has been. Since making his debut for the Proteas on the 17th of December 2004 in a Test match against England in Gqeberha, he’s become an undisputed great of the game. Starting off as a wicketkeeper-batsman and then featuring solely as a batsman, he amassed 8765 Test runs in 114 Test matches at an outstanding average of 50.66, 9577 ODI runs in 228 ODI’s at an outrageous average of 53.50, and 1672 T20I runs in 78 T20I’s at an average of 26.12 (not to mention an excellent strike rate of 135). Throughout his international career, AB excelled in all formats scoring 47 hundreds and 109 fifties for the Proteas. Additionally, during his career in the IPL, he amassed a staggering 5162 runs in 184 matches at a strike rate of over 150.

Together with his outstanding batting, AB was an electric fielder, usually in the slips, at cover or in the mid-wicket region, and amassed an outrageous 463 catches,17 stumpings, and numerous run outs. He was once involved in 11 dismissals in a single Test match – a record that still stands today. Furthermore, few are aware that AB also bowled some occasional right-arm medium pace and took 7 wickets in 9 ODI innings at a very handy average of 28.85. He was therefore a truly talented all-round cricketer, excelling at every facet of the game.

With his fine ability and strong determination, AB achieved numerous career records. This includes him winning the ICC ODI player of the year award on 3 occasions, in 2010, 2014 and 2015. This record is only matched by legendary Indian batsman Virat Kohli. Adding to this, he holds the individual records for the fastest 50, 100 and 150 ever scored in ODI cricket. In 2015, in an ODI against the West Indies at The Wanderers he scored a 50 off just 16 deliveries and went on to score 100 in just 31 deliveries. In another ODI against the West Indies later that year, he broke the record for the fastest 150, getting to the mark in a staggering 64 deliveries – thus etching his name into the cricketing annals.

AB will also be remembered for his exceptional cricketing brain, his ability to read situations, and his reputation as an unorthodox genius with bat in hand – he earned the nickname ‘Mr 360’ for his audacious ability to utilise every inch and every possible angle to discombobulate even the best bowlers. He was an absolute maestro at the paddle sweep, the ‘helicopter shot’, the reverse scoop and the dilscoop. Indeed, AB provided the blueprint for the modern-day white ball batsman: able to play the most unconventional shots alongside orthodox strokes, too. Modern batsmen who credit AB as an inspiration include Kohli, New Zealand batsman Devon Conway, and current world number one T20I batsman Suryakumar Yadav among others.

Since making his debut, it was always clear that AB De Villiers was special – a cricketer like no other. He played a critical role in ushering in the modern era of the game, whilst still upholding its traditional values with his textbook strokeplay in the Test arena. Has there been a better batsman in the modern era? Let us know in the comments below.

Sulaiman Karodia


  • Great Article Sulaiman. AB was such a unique player and certainly had a massive impact on the modern changes in how batsmen approach the game. Can’t think of many batsman who were even remotely like him. Faf Du Plessis is perhaps one, along with Virat Kohli. Quite a few now such as Suryakumar and Mohammad Rizwan along with Conway. Youngster Dewald Brevis also plays a lot like AB and has already broken some T20 batting records despite being just 19 years old is another one to keep an eye on. He plays for AB’s old team, The Titans in the SA domestic T20.

    • Thank you Hannah. Yes, AB De Villiers was a player who was, perhaps ahead of his time. He indeed made a huge contribution to batting as it is known today.

      An, interesting thing about Faf Du Plessis is that him and AB were schoolmates I believe. Hope Faf is selected for the Proteas whiteball teams in the near future as there was talk of him making a return and I believe he can add a new dimension with his experience, not to forget form🤣.

      Seen a bit of Brevis and he looks like the real deal. Still very young and rough around the edges, but ‘Baby AB’ sure has a huge future ahead of him. Actually looking forward to him playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2023. He has already scored 162 in a local T20 game for The Titans (AB’s old team) against the ITEC Knights in just 52 deliveries. Looks to be a future Proteas great. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

  • There’s only one ‘AB’ Sulaiman……..Mr. de Villiers needs a new nickname.

  • As a cricketer he never had the charisma of a Tendulkar, Lara or Kholi though he deserves his place up there with them as a pioneer of the transition between red and white ball. No player transcended the formats more completely. For most ofvhis career he was certainly the wicket every team wanted most playing South Africa.

    • Hi Marc. Yes, very true. AB De Villiers was a very unique batsman who had just about every skill a cricketer could dream of, particularly when it came to batting. He was also a unique batsman who really gave teams serious worries. Most folk in South Africa at present are really keeping an eye on a 19 year old star (Dewald Brevis) who is dubbed ‘the greatest South African batting talent since AB’. Incidently, De Villiers is also his mentor. Brevis is already playing first team IPL cricket for Mumbai Indians and am keen to see how he fares in this tournament. Don’t be surprised if you see him on fire in the IPL and making his Proteas debut this year. Thanks.


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