Johannesburg - After Sunday's carnage at the Wanderers where Proteas captain AB de Villiers rewrote the record books, former South African cricket captain Ali Bacher said his admiration for De Villiers knew no bounds.
"In my opinion, AB is the most brilliant, innovative batsman the world has ever seen," Bacher said after witnessing De Villiers' extraordinary knock.
De Villiers scored the fastest ever One Day International century in South Africa's 148-run victory over the West Indies at the Bullring on Sunday, bludgeoning his way to 104 off 31 balls
De Villiers exhibited an unparalleled display of strokeplay, including 16 sixes and nine fours in an explosive knock. During his innings, he also set the record for the fastest ODI 50, reaching his half-century off 16 balls.
"AB's shots are unprecedented in the game. I've watched him play shots no one else has ever played before and the extraordinary part is that he doesn't practise them."
Interviewing De Villiers recently for a book Bacher is writing with David Williams -- on South Africa's top 11 batsmen of all time -- Bacher asked De Villiers how often he practised his unorthodox shots before a game.
"I asked him if he practised those shots in the nets over and over again, so that they became automatic once he was out in the middle," Bacher said.
"His reply was an emphatic 'no'. He said it was pure instinct and he played with gut feel.
"His instinctive genius at the crease sets him apart and, not only that, he is a humble and respectful human being. You can tell he is proud to be South African. In my opinion, he is a great South African."
Bacher said it was not only his exceptional talent which had impressed him but his attitude which had left him with such a good impression.
"AB was running a few minutes late for his interview and instead of just turning up, he took the trouble to call me and say he was caught in traffic and would be a couple of minutes late.
"His whole demeanour during the interview impressed me. He seems to have all-round, exceptional qualities for a sportsman of such international stature.
"I strongly believe that AB, together with Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, can take South Africa to new and great heights in world cricket."
De Villiers is ranked the number one ODI batsman in the world and is lying second -- by one point only -- behind Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara in the Test batting rankings.