Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
3 minute read
20 Nov 2021
7:54 am

Runs, records and memories: AB de Villiers, one of the best

Ross Roche

His name will be etched in the record books for many years to come.

AB de Villiers during a match for the Tshwane Spartans in the 2019 Mzansi Super League competition. Picture: Gallo Images

Having officially retired from all forms of cricket with immediate effect on Friday morning, former Proteas captain AB de Villiers will go down as one of the all-time greats of the game, after a sparkling career in which he lit up stadiums around the world with his inventive batting on international and club duty.

Well known as ‘Mr 360’ due to his incredible ability to deposit the ball anywhere around the ground, De Villiers was part of a golden generation of Proteas cricket that saw them become the first team to top International Cricket Council rankings in all three formats of the game back in 2012.

He was also part of the Proteas team that won the famous 438 game against Australia in 2006, although he was at the start of his career then and only contributed 14 runs in the chase.

In all, De Villiers played 114 Tests, scoring 8 765 Test runs at an average of 50.66; 228 ODIs, scoring 9 577 ODI runs at a 53.50 average and superb strike rate of 101.09; and 78 T20Is, scoring 1 672 runs at an average of 26.12 and strike rate of 135.16.

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He was also a very accomplished wicketkeeper, though back issues meant he could not play in the position full time, which worked out better anyway as he was an unbelievable fielder, comparable with the great Jonty Rhodes.

Among all the amazing innings that De Villiers played during his career, arguably his greatest performance came in the Pink Day ODI against the West Indies at the Bullring in Johannesburg in January 2015.

In that amazing match the Proteas racked up a mammoth 439/2 in their innings, with Hashim Amla striking 153 and Rilee Roussouw 128, in an opening stand that yielded 247 runs.

However it was the introduction of De Villiers in the 39th over that set off the fireworks as he proceeded to lash the West Indian bowlers to every part of the ground, hammering his way to an incredible 149 off just 44 deliveries, featuring a mind blowing 16 maximums and nine boundaries.

AB de Villiers celebrates his record century against West Indies in 2015. Picture: Gallo Images

Along the way he wrote his name into the world cricketing record books, setting the fastest ODI half-century off just 16 balls and quickest international century off only 31 deliveries, which are records that still stand today and may stand for years to come.

On the local cricket scene, De Villiers was a stalwart of the Titans franchise, but he also found a very fervent support base in India where he represented the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL from 2011 to 2021.

It is unfortunate that De Villiers leaves a somewhat fractured legacy due to unexpected retirement and revelations against him in the recent Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings conducted by Cricket SA.

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In the hearings it was most notably alleged that De Villiers was involved in the non-selection of Khaya Zondo for the Proteas against India in 2015.

The other mark against him was his sudden international retirement back in 2018 which came as a shock to the nation as he was still considered the country’s premier batter and was expected to play for a few more years.

He then attempted to do a u-turn on his decision on the eve of the squad announcement for the 2019 World Cup, which left a bad taste in the mouth, and was also rumored to be in the running for selection for the recent T20 World Cup, but that did not materialise.

Despite those unfortunate incidents, De Villiers’ form on the field will be what is most fondly remembered, while his name will be etched in the record books for many years to come.