AB de Villiers
Abraham Benjamin de Villiers
February 17, 1984, Pretoria
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
A 360-degree batter who could hit any ball anywhere, against any bowler, AB de Villiers was a bona fide South African great: a cricketer with overflowing talent and the temperament to back it up, a fielder able to leap tall buildings and still come up with the catch - and who could happily assume the wicketkeeper's spot if needed. As if all that wasn't enough, he was also a fine rugby player, golfer, and tennis player.
De Villiers broke the world record for the fastest ODI hundred in 2015, getting to the milestone off 31 balls in a breathtaking innings that included the fastest ODI fifty as well as 16 sixes, also the world record at that time. He was South Africa's leading run-scorer (and captain) in the World Cup that followed but couldn't take them past the semi-final stage.
De Villiers made his Test debut as an opener against England in 2004 (in the same match as Dale Steyn), when he was picked after only 16 first-class matches. He was later moved into the middle order and asked to keep wicket, which he did successfully: he batted everywhere from No. 1 to No. 8 and performed well in most of those positions.
After a brief slump in form in 2006 and 2007, he returned early in 2008 with a blistering 103 not out in the Durban Test against West Indies. Later that year he became the first South African to score a double-century against India in an innings win in Ahmedabad. He followed that with 174 at Headingley and 106 not out in Perth, in South Africa's first series wins in the two countries since readmission. That was de Villiers' best Test year, with 1061 runs at 58.94.
He came close to those heights again in 2010, when he scored 996 runs, and in 2013, when he made 933. His 278 not out against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in 2010 was the highest individual score by a South African in Test cricket until Hashim Amla made a triple two years later. By then, de Villiers was South Africa's full-time Test wicketkeeper after Mark Boucher's retirement, as well as the ODI and T20I captain.
He was relieved from keeping duties once Quinton de Kock made it into the international side, and although he was appointed the Test captain in 2016 after Amla stepped down, de Villiers didn't actually assume the role. He ruled himself out of Test cricket for most of 2017 and in May 2018, retired from international cricket with the words "I am tired".
Outside of South African colours, de Villiers was also a batting legend in T20 leagues worldwide, especially in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore - for whom he made nearly 5000 runs at a strike rate of 158.63 in 11 seasons. After the 2021 IPL, de Villiers announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
Batting & Fielding