Johannesburg - The accolades continued pouring in for AB de Villiers after he claimed four accolades, including Cricketer of the Year, at Cricket South Africa’s annual awards in Sandton on Wednesday.
According to the supersport.com website, he was also named Test Cricketer of the Year, South African Players’ Player of the year and South African Fans’ Cricketer of the Year.
“He is the most innovative South African batsman I have ever seen,” said Dr Ali Bacher, a former national captain and former CEO of South African cricket.
“I will put him in Barry Richards’ league in terms of talent,” said Michael Owen-Smith, one of South Africa’s most respected cricket historians.
Owen-Smith and Neil Manthorp co-authored a publication, The Selected - the 25 South African Cricketers of All Time, in 2007.
Neither AB de Villiers nor Hashim Amla, whose Test cricketing careers were a fast-evolving work in progress at that time, was considered part of the elite back then.
But Owen-Smith made it clear in an interview with SuperSport that Amla and De Villiers together with Jacques Kallis are arguably the three finest SA batsmen of the new generation, while Dudley Nourse, Aubrey Faulkner of the pre-1960’s and Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock in the decade before the start of the isolation were arguably the greatest craftsmen with the blade that South Africa had ever produced.
“The past three years AB has averaged 70 with the bat. His test ranking points are already among the ten best ever (of the batsmen). You imagine that if he continues to excel in the next five years and average 55, you would have to compare him with the Sachin Tendulkar’s and Brian Lara’s of the world,” added Owen-Smith.
Bacher said he watched the Indian Premier League game in which De Villiers slammed 24 runs off the world’s premier fast bowler Dale Steyn for the Bangalore Royal Challengers against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. “It was the work of a genius, as there were no slogs,” he added.
“Clearly AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are two of the best batsmen we have ever produced. But I don’t wish to compare them with Richards, Pollock and Nourse, as it is difficult to compare eras,” added Bacher.
Right now, De Villiers averages 51.94 in 92 Tests with nineteen Test centuries, while he averages a superb 49.46 in 159 ODIs, including sixteen tons.
Asked if De Villiers would become complacent and lose his edge, Bacher said he doesn’t think so. “AB is extremely passionate about the game, and you could see it in his body language. If you love what you are doing, there might not be a loss of form. It’s once you become bored, that you lose the edge.”