03 March 2015
AB De Villiers: World Cup Superstar
The 31-year-old now holds the records for fastest 50, 100 and 150 in ODIs.
AB de Villiers stroked 162 off 66 balls against West Indies in Sydney.
But Abraham Benjamin de Villiers’ humble nature is as endearing as his freakish talent with the bat is entertaining.
Nothing sums up his approach better than his remarks while walking off the field after scoring the fastest 150 in history on Friday against the West Indies:
"A very enjoyable knock today. It was just one of those knocks, a little bit of luck and made it count,” de Villiers said after the match at the SCG.
After the match, de Villiers summed up the 257-run win – the equal-largest winning margin in World Cup history – by simply saying, “It was our day today, the bounce of the ball went our way and my way and I'm sure the West Indies will bounce back.”
At his post-match press conference, he gave much of the credit for South Africa’s massive total to batsman Rilee Rossouw.
“I thought he was the guy who started everything for us in the middle of the innings there,” de Villiers said.
“I didn't feel too well when I was walking out to bat, really flat, and he had a lot of energy about him, a lot of intensity.
“(The ball) wasn’t actually wasn't going off the middle of the bat, not all of them.”
However much he might downplay it, de Villiers set the Sydney Cricket Ground alight.
It would be a safe bet to say many Sydney workers took an early mark to make their way to Moore Park, given how much the crowd swelled as his innings wore on.
Seemingly breaking records with every ball towards the end of his innings, de Villiers displayed the mix of conventional, unorthodox and simply unbelievable shots he has become famous for, lofting eight sixes and smashing 17 fours.
It was the second-fastest World Cup century ever, but it was not even de Villiers’ fastest ton this year, given he smashed 100 off 31 balls against the same opposition in January.
And all this from a man who battled an energy-sapping sickness in the previous 24 hours, and was clearly far from 100 per cent when he took his place in the middle.
“You would say (his innings) was unbelievable, but it’s the second time I’ve seen this from AB de Villiers in the space of a month,” former South African captain Shaun Pollock said during the innings break of Friday’s match.
“He’s too humble. He said he just got lucky. Well, it’s the second time I’ve seen him get lucky in the space of a month.
“He really is a remarkable player. The fact he is rated No.1 is just so justified.
“He scores 360 degrees around the pitch and as a bowler, I have got to feel sorry for them (because) what they can possibly do?”
The 31-year-old now holds the records for fastest 50, 100 and 150 in ODIs, has 20 hundreds 43 fifties from 175 ODI innings and holds an average of 52.93.
The fact de Villiers has the back-up of incredibly talented and in-form teammates including Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel is the reason South Africa presents such a big threat in the World Cup.
Against the West Indies, Amla (65), Rossouw (61) and du Plessis (62) were also impressive with the bat, while it was Imran Tahir (5-45), Morkel (2-23) and Kyle Abbott (2-37) who did the most damage with the ball, while Steyn (1-24) was the most economical.
Given Rossouw and Abbott may not even have played had JP Duminy and Vernon Philander been fit, the Proteas have plenty of options.
If there were doubts about the team following its disappointing loss to India in Melbourne, they were vanquished by a dominant display with both bat and ball in Sydney.
While top spot in Pool B is out of South Africa’s control, with India now in the box seat after last Sunday’s win, South Africa will take plenty of confidence into its final three pool matches against Ireland, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
With a quarter-final match against either Sri Lanka or England likely, Pollock believes more magic from de Villiers in the knock-out stages could be the key to the Proteas winning their first World Cup.
“There’s no doubt he is a superstar captain leading from the front, what more could you want?”
“He can play those kind of innings and hopefully for South Africa he gets it right in one of the knockout games and gets them over the line.”
Australia v Afghanistan Preview, Match 26, Perth
Pakistan v UAE Preview, Match 25, Napier