Abraham Benjamin de Villiers, popularly known as AB de Villiers, is a South African cricketer. He announced his retirement from international cricket in 2018 which came as a big surprise to cricket fans. He had begun his international career as a wicketkeeper/batsman, but he has played most often solely as a batsman. de Villiers, regarded as the most innovative batsman in the modern era, can play shots even over the heads of the wicketkeeper and slip fielders with ease. No wonder he has earned himself the nick name of Mr 360 degrees.
AB de Villiers made his One Day International (ODI) debut against England in Bloemfontein on February 5, 2005. In his first match, he scored just 20 runs as the match ended in a tie. In 228 ODI matches, he scored 9,577 runs at an average of 53.5 and strike rate of 101.1. In 2015, the flamboyant right-hander scored the fastest century in ODIs in just 31 balls, and finished his innings at the score of 149 off 44 balls, against Windies. The 44-ball 149 included 9 fours and 16 sixes — it took him only 44 balls to equal Rohit Sharma’s record tally of 16 sixes in an ODIs. AB de Villiers also holds the records for the fastest 50 (16 balls), 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls) in ODIs. He is a three-time ICC ODI player of the year, having won the titles in 2010, 2014 and 2015. He is also the only batsman in ODI cricket to have completed a trio of 5,000-plus runs, 50-plus average, and over 100 strike rate in career.
AB de Villiers started his Indian Premier League (IPL) career with the Delhi Daredevils franchise (now Delhi Capitals) in 2008. He represented Delhi Daredevils in the first three IPL seasons and scored 671 runs in the three seasons, including a century in the second edition. In 2011, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bought him for Rs 5 crore and the franchise has not released him since. He has single handedly won his team several matches — the most famous of his innings was of 18 runs in a Dale Steyn over. In 162 matches so far, he has scored 4625 runs with an average of 40.21 and strike rate of 152.43. He has scored 3 centuries and 36 fifties, his highest score is 133 runs.
AB de Villiers played his first T20 International match against Australia at The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on February 24, 2006. He scored 1,672 runs in 78 matches at an average of 26.12 and a strike rate of 131.17. He holds the record for scoring the fastest fifty by a South African in T20Is.
AB de Villiers made his Test debut against England at Saint George’s park in Port Elizabeth on December 17, 2004. He accumulated over 8,000 runs in Tests, with 22 centuries and 46 fifties and an average of 50.66. He holds the record for most Test innings without getting dismissed for a duck (78). He was finally dismissed without scoring against Bangladesh in November 2008. He also holds the second-highest individual score by a South African batsman (278 not out). In 2012-13, during the Australia tour, he curbed his natural instinct to score a 220-ball 33 in Adelaide to save the Test for his side.
And even after achieving all this, he is the most humble cricketer I have ever seen. In an interview of his that I was reading on the Xpert app, when asked about a piece of advice he would like to give to the next generation, he said “Be humble. Its just that. Simple. Be humble and everything else will come through.” That, according to me is what makes him even more special!