- Major teams: South Africa (national), Northern Titans (domestic) & Bangalore Royal Challangers (Indian Premier League)
- Leadership roles: National One-Day & Twenty20 Captain
- Batting: Right-hand bat
- Bowling style: Right-arm medium
- Fielding position: Wicketkeeper / cover and backward point
- Test Cap No: 296 / ODI Cap No: 78 / T20 Cap No: 20
- Test Shirt No: 61 / ODI Shirt No: 17
AB is a right-handed batsman, who, in a very short space of time, has accumulated many runs in Tests including centuries against England, India, the West Indies and Australia. He has been dismissed in the 90s on five occasions in Tests. He still holds the record for most Test innings without registering a duck (78), before being dismissed for nought against Bangladesh in November 2008. He is also a wicketkeeper sometimes.
AB played for Carrickfergus Cricket Club in Northern Ireland as youngster, became the second youngest and second fastest South African to reach 1000 test runs after Graeme Pollock and in his test career so far AB has batted, bowled and kept wicket as well. He is a naturally born sportsman and has excelled in golf (playing off scratch despite playing infrequently), rugby, cricket and tennis. However, he chose to pursue a career in cricket and, after a spell in the South Africa U19 team, he made his debut for the Titans in 2003/4.
He made his test debut as a 20 year old on 16 December 2004 against England at Port Elizabeth. He made an impression opening the batting, but was dropped down the order for the second test and also handed the wicket-keeping gloves. In this match, he made a match saving half century from number seven. However, he found himself at the top of the order again for the final test of the series and has played the majority of his tests there. Since then he has not missed a Test match and has also batted down the order in some tests leading to speculation that he may possibly take the place of Mark Boucher as the wicket-keeper/batsman when Boucher retires, although AB has himself expressed a preference for playing as a specialist batsman only.
He has been used in a similar fashion to Jonty Rhodes in ODIs, opening the innings, although he currently bats in the middle order. The 2005 ODI tour to India represented a ‘coming of age’ for AB as a cricketer as he scored his second ODI half century on 24 October, 2006, batting 5th in a partnership with Mark Boucher, playing against an impressive Sri Lankan side. De Villiers gave the selectors a sign by producing his then highest one-day score of 92 not out, which included 12 fours and one six, from 98 balls against India in the 2006 winter series.
For the 2009/10 ODI series against England, AB was promoted up the order to the pivotal No. 3 position replacing long-time main stay, Jacques Kallis. Of this, AB said, “I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing up the order and I’m looking forward to scoring a few big scores”.
Surprisingly, AB’s batting averages are higher against more prominent opposition, rather than weaker opponents (such as non-Test playing sides). This is because, as AB stated in an interview, he finds it tough when “the pressure is a bit down [sic]” and loves the “tense moments and pressure situations” when the team is counting on him to perform.
AB has a reputation as an outstanding fielder, typified by a sensational diving run-out of Simon Katich of Australia in 2005. This has also led people to make further comparisons of him to Jonty Rhodes as he was also one of the finest fielders of his generation.
Profile from CricInfo (by Telford Vice)
A batsman of breathtaking chutzpah and enterprise, as well as the skills and the temperament required to back up his creative intent. A fielder able to leap tall buildings and still come up with the catch. A wicketkeeper who is perfectly at ease donning pads and gloves. A fine rugby player, golfer, and tennis player. All AB de Villiers needs to show off his abundant gifts is a ball. Just about any ball.
Cricket should be pleased to have him. Few drive the ball as sweetly and to the boundary as regularly, and – in South Africa, at any rate – even fewer possess the silkily snappy footwork required to put spinners in their place. de Villiers is also among the fastest and the most instinctively sensible runners between the wickets. Marry all that with an approach to life that veers between laconic and laid back, and it isn’t difficult to fathom why he has been afforded senior player status in the South African team years ahead of his time.
de Villiers’ potential was recognised years before he made the leap to senior international level as an opening batsman against England at Port Elizabeth in 2004-05. He has batted everywhere from number one to number eight – with the important exception of number three – and has performed well in most of these positions.
After a brief slump in form in 2006 and 2007, de Villiers returned to the straight and narrow early in 2008 with a blistering 103 not out off 109 balls in Durban against West Indies. Later that year came one of de Villiers’ career highlights, an undefeated 217 at Ahmedabad. It was the first double-century by a South African against India.
South Africans do not take easily to the precociously talented, but it helps if they do not come across all precocious. Such is the case with de Villiers, whose lazy smile under an every-which-way thatch of blond hair has helped convince the nation that he’s worth feeding despite all that talent. The nation is not wrong.
de Villiers adjusts to the requirements of cricket’s various formats as effortlessly as someone of his ample abilities should do. So much so that he has yet to fall victim to the curse of selection disputes, a curse that has struck even as accomplished a player as Jacques Kallis. Instead, as a career that should be in its adolescence by the mere measure of time and matches arches ever upward, the only question to be asked about de Villiers is how to deploy him to maximum effect.
Milestones & Achievements
- In 2009 he was nominated for ICC Cricketer of the year and ICC Test Player of the year. He also was named South Africa’s One-Day Cricketer of the Year and SuperSport Fans’ Player of the Year.
- In 2010, AB took over as wicketkeeper for South Africa in the one-day version of the game. He was also named as the ICC One-Day Cricketer of the Year.
- On November 21, 2010 in the 2nd Test against Pakistan, AB re-wrote the record books by scoring 278 not out – the highest individual score for a South African batsman in Tests. This stellar innings along with other consistent performances helped him enter the ICC Top 10 Test Batsman rankings for the first time at No. 5.
- On December 18, 2010 in the 1st Test against India, AB scored the fastest Test century by a South African batsman. He scored his century in one session off just 75 balls – an innings that included five sixes and 11 fours.
- On February 24, 2011 during RSA’s opening Cricket World Cup match against the West Indies, AB scored the fastest WC century by a South African reaching the milestone in 97 balls.
- On March 4, 2011 during the Cricket World Cup, AB became the first South African to score two centuries in a single World Cup. They were successive centuries against West Indies and the Netherlands. On both occasions, AB was named Man of the Match.
- On June 6, 2011 during the announcement of SA’s new leadership team, AB was appointed captain of the One-Day and Twenty20 teams. Hashim Amla was appointed his deputy; and Gary Kirsten, the new coach.
- On June 7, 2011 at the annual Cricket South Africa (CSA) Awards, AB was named One-Day Cricketer of the Year.