Major teams South Africa, Africa XI, Delhi Daredevils, Northerns,Royal Challengers Bangalore, Titans
Playing role Wicketkeeper batsman
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium
Fielding position Wicketkeeper
orn on February 17, 1984, Abraham Benjamin de Villiers has rose from the ranks to become one of the world’s best batsmen, across all formats. When on song, de Villiers can take any bowling apart with his wide array of strokes on either side of the wicket. If his drives, pulls and cuts are pleasing to the eye, his ability to innovate has left bowlers hapless on many occasions.
A talented sportsman, de Villiers has not just excelled in cricket, but has also proved himself in other sports such as golf, rugby and tennis. Cricket was his passion though, and it soon turned out to be his chosen field for higher avenues. De Villiers spent his formative years with Nashua Titans, the Pretoria based franchise.
His supreme ability caught the eye of the selectors as he was fast-tracked into the national squad at an early age of 20. He made his Test debut against England in Port Elizabeth and showed his class with a fine knock of 52 in just his fourth innings with the bat, saving South Africa from what looked like a certain defeat. He registered his first century during the same series, a fine 109 on his home ground in Centurion.
Having played both as an opener and as a lower-order wicket-keeper-batsman in his first Test series, de Villiers was earmarked for greatness. He soon proved his worth by amassing 460 runs in his first away tour to the Caribbean Islands in 2005. A slump in form ensured – de Villiers battled for runs against Australia both at home and away – he had to wait until the home series against West Indies in 2007-08 to again reach the three-figure mark. However, he made up for the lost time, spanking a fine 217 against India in Ahmedabad, the first South African player to hit a double ton against India.
It was plain sailing later on for the flamboyant right-hander as he scored runs for fun. It included a superb 278 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in November 2010, briefly placing him at the top of the ladder for the highest individual score by a South African batsman. De Villiers soon grew in stature, becoming one of the mainstays of the South African team in their journey to attain the No.1 Test ranking.
An attacking batsman, de Villiers showed that he had it in him to play according to the merits of the situation as well. With South Africa struggling to save the Adelaide Test against Australia during the tour Down Under in 2012-13, de Villiers curbed his natural instincts, as he blocked his way to 33 from 220 balls. In the next Test at the WACA, he showed his other side, smacking 169 from just 184 balls as the visitors ruthlessly dismantled the hosts.
De Villiers is also one of the best ever players to grace the shorter formats, where he is currently ranked as the No. 1 batsman. Most of the ODI innings played by the master batsman, would be full of believe-it-or-not innovative shots, be it the ramp over the wicket-keeper, the cheeky paddles past short fine or the audacious reverse sweeps and reverse pulls while facing up to quick bowlers. Unquestionably, with his ability to manoeuvre the field placements and his excellent hand-eye co-ordination, de Villiers has turned out to be one of the most exciting batsmen across all formats of the game.
His knock of 278 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, 2010 was the highest individual Test score by a South African batsman until Amla made 311 against England at The Oval in 2012.
Following South Africa’s exit from the 2011 World Cup, de Villiers was named as the captain of their ODI and T20I team in June 2011. However, he soon gave up the T20I captaincy in early 2013, as he was South Africa’s main batsman as well as their first choice wicket-keeper. He though, captained the T20I side for two matches in the absence of Faf du Plessis in the 2014 World T20. He led them since du Plessis was injured for one game and was suspended in the other. He was instrumental in taking South Africa to the semi-final of the tournament.
He has also been one of the most sought after players in the Indian Premier League. De Villiers has had stints with Delhi and is currently a part of the Bangalore set-up.