• Eye for the outrageous

    AB de Villiers’ ability to pull off the improbable has made him a major asset for the Proteas in all three formats of the game. By MARK KEOHANE.

    Kepler Wessels believes there isn’t a batsman in the game who makes run-scoring look as easy as AB de Villiers and Wessels encouraged South Africans to enjoy the ride, saying it had the potential to be spectacular.

    Wessels marvels at De Villiers, the batsman, and has classed him in the elite category. Statistically, De Villiers became the best batsman in the world in Test and ODI cricket in December last year. Those statistics are a reward for consistent performance but what defines De Villiers is his ability to change the course of a game.

    As a batsman his strength is that he can so quickly influence a momentum switch. He has done it in Tests and he has often done it playing ODIs and T20Is. ‘It’s extraordinary how easy he makes it look,’ Wessels wrote in a column for SuperSport.com. ‘He is the sort of batsman who only comes along once every 20 years, and we are fortunate to have his abundant talents.’

    Wessels, awed by a cameo innings De Villiers had played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, said there were so many instances of his game-changing batting performances.

    ‘De Villiers is one of those players who just oozes raw talent. There are very few players, if any, in the world who make scoring runs look as easy as AB de Villiers does when he is playing well. It also helps that he is a phenomenal athlete. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious and he has a positive effect on any team he plays for.

    ‘There is a new crop of young players about to take control of the Proteas under the leadership of De Villiers. This is an exciting time for the national team. If this period doesn’t end up in World Cup success, it would be a major surprise.’

    Wessels is among the most astute judges of character within the game and he’s convinced De Villiers is the right player to lead the Proteas in ODIs.

    He is also a supporter of the three-captain system employed by South Africa’s selectors. There is consensus that the demands and pressures of the different formats don’t allow for one man to lead his country in all three.

    In his early international career, De Villiers always spoke of wanting to be the best batsman in the world. As he has matured, he has spoken more of wanting the Proteas to be the best team in the world.

    De Villiers will always have personal goals and the ambition to be considered the best batsman will never abate, but his focus, in media interviews, reflects an emphasis on team ethos, team ethic and team performance.

    De Villiers has matured, as a leader and a person, but that has not translated into dulled batting performances. And that maturity has spilled over into the Test arena too.

    He is now a complete batsman in the format, as he has shown in the past season. The upcoming Test assignment against Zimbabwe, and the end-of-year tour by West Indies is an opportunity to not only win some Tests for the Proteas, but also to show off his gift for the spectacular.

    Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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