AB de Villiers broke the record for the fastest ODI hundred in the history of the game on Sunday. It took him just 31 balls to get there, five deliveries faster than the record set by Corey Anderson last year. In that same innings, De Villiers also broke the record for fastest fifty in one-day cricket, smashing it in just 16 balls. Just to make his point quite clear, he also equalled the record for most sixes in an ODI innings.
It was an innings that was good enough to make even those usually partial to football sit up and take notice.
His innings of 149 off 44 balls helped South Africa post their highest ever ODI total, a sweltering 439-2. It was the second highest ever total in the one-day format and the highest against a Test playing nation. It also means that South Africa now features in three of the top five innings totals ever.
With the World Cup just around the corner, South Africa can thank their lucky stars they have a player like De Villiers on their side. He is, without a doubt, the most extraordinary batting talent of his generation.
There is no doubt that one-day cricket has evolved quite significantly in the last 10 years. In fact, five of the fastest ODI centuries have been scored since 2010. Being a bowler is not a job anybody wants to do willingly these days. The Wanderers certainly lends itself to impressive feats, but what De Villiers did on Sunday wasn’t just impressive, it was revolutionary.
The Windies’ bowling line-up might be weak, but De Villiers’ ability to fire from the get-go is something that very few players can do. When he walked out to the crease, with South Africa on 247-1 and just over 11 overs still remaining, he told Hashim Amla that he will “just have a look” for an over. He had a look by smashing a four off his first ball and from there on, the flood gates opened.
Consistency is key in De Villiers’ approach and that is just one of the many reasons he is such a valuable player and why he is rated as the best in the world. It doesn’t matter where or against who he plays, De Villiers will find a way to get runs. He is also very good at scoring all around the wicket and does so consistently.
With cricket evolving faster than you can say “powerplay,” players like De Villiers become ever more important to their teams' prospects in competitions like the World Cup. While players like Amla can continue to play their natural, more traditional game, players like De Villiers can innovate and be the X-factor that can lead teams to glory.
It’s still far too early to judge South Africa’s chances at the World Cup. There are still three one-day games to come against the West Indies and nobody really knows what the conditions in Australia and New Zealand will be like. What is for certain, though, is that AB de Villiers will be the most important player in South Africa’s arsenal.
All quotes and information obtained firsthand.