If you thought Chris Gayle’s double hundred was spectacular, just wait until AB de Villiers gets going, says Australia legend Adam Gilchrist.
The Proteas captain will get his crack at the reduced-size Manuka Oval in Canberra against Ireland on Tuesday, and the forthright Aussie veteran believes De Villiers is primed to break his own record for the fastest ODI century.
Gilchrist, one of the most aggressive batsmen the game has seen, expects the pitch, traditionally a batsman’s paradise, to provide the perfect platform to launch an assault. De Villiers has already given the public a taste of what is possible when he whacked 52 off 34 deliveries in an ODI against Australia in November. He then followed that up with a 31-ball hundred against the West Indies in Johannesburg.
‘He’s the world’s most valuable cricketer, he’s the best player in all three formats of the game,’ Gilchrist said. ‘He’s the most damaging cricketer in all formats as a batsman, but not only that he captains, he wicketkeeps to as good a standard as any in the world and fields quite possibly better than anyone in the world.
‘Who knows, just when you think something can’t be improved on, the players in this day and age are taking it to new levels, so anything’s possible.’
The scene is set for a head-to-head this Friday, when South Africa meet the West Indies at Sydney. De Villiers is yet to hit his straps this World Cup, much like Gayle when he arrived in Canberra. But The big West Indian found his rhythm with the highest ever World Cup innings of 215 off just 147 balls against Zimbabwe on Tuesday.
A week later, De Villiers could do the same.
With the changed playing surface, Manuka’s just a little smaller now than the MCG so it’s well within his capability to regularly clear the fence.