In short, AB de Villiers is the face of the modern cricketer — the batsman who knows no limits to strokeplay, for whom audacity is no fetter for temperament.
No limits to strokeplay, he can literally hit it anywhere, 360 degrees around the wicket.
He is someone who ruled the batting world in Test cricket while still remaining the best exponent of the reverse sweep and perching at the pinnacle of One-Day Internationals as well. And his job did not end with putting runs on the board.
A hundred and a world record equalling eleven catches in the same Test match just about manage to scratch the surface of his versatility. Even when he did not don the big gloves, he remained an electric fielder — perhaps the best produced by South Africa since Jonty Rhodes. And one knows this is tantamount to outshining a constellation of extraordinary brilliance — the Protean cricketers have not exactly dragged their feet since the days Rhodes patrolled cover point.
It is not a far stretch to say that de Villiers stood for a considerable while as the best batsman in the world. He deservedly reached the peak of the ICC Test rankings in March 2012, and, after a dip towards the latter part of the year, roosted there at the pinnacle from October 2013 almost constantly till late 2015.
Perhaps he left Test cricket earlier than we would have liked. Indeed, one cannot quite have enough of such a phenomenal talent.
In short, he was a gift to the game of cricket. And the sport is lucky that de Villiers decided to bestow his incredible talent on the 22 yards rather than in any other. There was always the danger, because, as Telford Vice, put it, “All AB de Villiers needs to show off his abundant gifts is a ball. Just about any ball.”
AB de Villiers was born on February 17, 1984.
Text: Arunabha Sengupta