BETTER than Bradman.
That’s Bob Willis’ stunning assessment of AB de Villiers in the wake of his record-breaking ODI century in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“I’ve been saying for the last 30 years that Viv Richards has to be the best batsman of all time — even better than Sir Don Bradman in my book — but I’m going to have to reassess because this guy is something extraordinary,” Willis told Sky Sports UK.
“The improvisation, the strength, the intelligence — knowing exactly where every fielder is and where the gaps are — were unbelievable.”
Willis’ comments are certainly controversial, but there can be no doubt that de Villiers now belongs among cricket’s great batsmen.
Here are five reasons why.
ONLY PLAYER WITH 150+ INNINGS TO AVERAGE OVER 50 IN TEST & ODI CRICKET
AB de Villiers is the only player in history to average over 50 with the bat in Test and ODI cricket with a minimum of 150 innings completed in both formats. His mean score of 52.09 from 162 Test innings and 52.39 from 171 ODI’s dwarfs the numbers of anyone to ever play the game. If the belt is loosened to a minimum of 100 innings in each format, only one other player falls into this category — current South African Hashim Amla. Remarkably, de Villiers is the only player in history to average over 50 in Test, ODI, First Class and domestic one day/List A cricket.
HE THRIVES WITH THE BAT WHILE ALSO KEEPING WICKET
Much of de Villiers’ international career has also been spent shouldering an incredible workload as wicketkeeper while batting in the top five for his country. But that doesn’t seem to worry him — he averages more with the bat in matches he keeps wicket than in matches where he doesn’t. De Villiers has worn the gloves in 23 of his 98 Test matches, averaging 58.26 with the bat in those fixtures — more than six runs per innings higher than his career mark. But the difference in ODI cricket is phenomenal — in 58 ODI’s as wicketkeeper, his average skyrockets to 70.54, more than 18 runs above his overall average.
HE DOES IT YEAR IN, YEAR OUT, HOME AND AWAY
It seems that wherever he goes, whenever he goes, AB de Villiers just makes runs and the numbers back it up. Since 2008, de Villiers has averaged between 47 and 78 in Test cricket every completed calendar year, while he only averages under 40 in one country — Bangladesh. In ODI cricket the numbers aren’t much different — since 2009, his average in a calendar year has not dipped below 50, while only the cold and miserable conditions of England and Ireland have pushed his mean score below the 40 mark for an individual country.
HE IS CONSISTENTLY RANKED AT NUMBER ONE IN BOTH FORMATS
De Villiers has long been the best batsman in the world in the Test and one day arenas and this has been reflected in the ICC’s rankings system. In ODI cricket, de Villiers has been top of the pile for over two years, during which time he has captained the team since Graeme Smith’s departure and kept wicket. While not leading the Test team, de Villiers also sat at the top of the Test rankings during that period, before Kumar Sangakkara plundered New Zealand to all parts recently and pipped him for top spot by one rankings point.
… AND HE DOES ALL THIS WHILE RECORDING MUSIC
Many would think that ploughing the world’s best bowlers to all parts on the field and meticulously preparing day in, day out off the field would leave de Villiers strapped for time. But not so — he has achieved his incredible array of batting feats while recording a pop album. Brett Lee may be Australian cricket’s most renowned musician but AB de Villiers gives him a run for his money in the singing stakes, punching out beautiful renditions of power ballads such as ‘Show Them Who you Are’ and ‘Madibaland’ in his bilingual album ‘Maak Jou Drome Waar’. Somehow, we think the sound of him cracking bowlers to all parts sounds a little better …
Source: FOX Sports – January 19, 2015 / Matthew Taylor