• AB enters 100-Test club against India

    AB de Villiers will become the seventh South African to play 100 Test matches when the Proteas face India in the second Test in Bangalore on Saturday.

    Jacques Kallis (166 Tests), Mark Boucher (146), Graeme Smith (116), Shaun Pollock (108), Makhaya Ntini (101) and Gary Kirsten (101) are the other players to have reached the milestone. De Villiers will become the 63rd international to play 100 Tests.

    The question now is, where does De Villiers rank among South Africa’s best ever Test batsmen? The short answer is behind only the legendary Kallis.

    De Villiers is currently the No 1-ranked ODI and Test batsman in the world. There is little doubt that he is currently operating at the peak of his considerable powers and, at 31 years of age, he still has a good few years left at the top. He has single-handedly redefined batting in the 50-over format, but hasn’t quite made the same impact in the longer format of the game.

    Nevertheless, a Test average above fifty and 21 centuries confirm his world-class status and at this rate he is on course to rival Kallis as South Africa’s most successful Test batsman. The retired all-rounder played international cricket until the age of 38 without sacrificing one of the three formats.

    There is little doubt De Villiers can do the same, especially considering he doesn’t bowl and is a more natural athlete than all the other batsmen on the list. Already one of the most exciting batsmen to watch in any format, De Villiers will enter the conversation of all-time great Test batsmen in years to come.

    Most great batsmen get better as they get older and De Villiers is no exception. A batsman’s thirties is often the most productive and consistent phase of his career, and De Villiers has entered that phase now where he knows his own game very well. Couple with his improved maturity over the last few years and a real possibility exists that we haven’t yet seen the best of Abraham Benjamin de Villiers. What a chilling thought.

    Kallis played until he was 38, but the greatest of them all, Sachin Tendulkar, went even further by calling it a day at 40. That means, theoretically at least, De Villiers can go on to play for another seven to nine years, in which case he is bound to break all kinds of records.

    His injury record also counts in his favour. De Villiers played 98 consecutive Tests for South Africa until the series against Bangladesh but the sequence was broken so he could be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

    The only thing that could slow him down is scheduling, with South Africa playing considerably fewer Test matches these days, especially compared to countries like England, even though the Proteas are the No 1-ranked team in the world.

    Most Test runs by a South African batsman after 99 Tests:

    Player Age Matches Runs
    Graeme Smith 31 99 8042
    Jacques Kallis 30 99 7840
    AB de Villiers 31 99 7685
    Gary Kirsten 36 99 7210

    Completed careers:

    Player Age Matches Runs Average 100s 50s
    Jacques Kallis 38 166 13289 55.37 45 58
    Graeme Smith 33 117 9265 48.25 27 38
    AB de Villiers* 31 99 7685 51.92 21 37
    Gary Kirsten 36 101 7289 45.27 21 34

    *Still playing