Retired Australian speedster Mitchell Johnson says AB de Villiers was the toughest batsman he ever bowled to.
Johnson mixed it with the best batsmen across the world during his career for Australia, but says De Villiers was the standout.
Johnson, who retired from all forms of international cricket on Tuesday, says De Villiers was the hardest batsman to crack in his 73-Test career in the Baggy Green.
‘AB de Villiers, he’s one outstanding player of our generation,’ Johnson told Inside Cricket. ‘He was always so difficult to get out and a huge challenge.
‘I remember the game at Centurion [in 2014] and I’d got a few quick wickets in that game and he came out to bat and looked so calm and composed and just played his natural game.
‘It really is difficult when someone does come out like that and you’re on top of your game. But it really is a great challenge and he’s been one of the best players I’ve played against.’
In that Centurion Test, Johnson claimed 12 wickets and the Man-of-the-Match award, ripping apart the Proteas with the same pace and hostility that destroyed England in the Ashes only months earlier.
And while Johnson dismissed De Villiers twice in that match, the South African superstar cut a lone figure for the humbled hosts, top-scoring in both innings with 91 and 48.
Shane Watson recalls Johnson’s ferocious spell at SuperSport Park from the sidelines and was taken aback by how easily De Villiers handled a rampant Johnson at the peak of his powers.
‘You’ve got world-class players of fast bowling and jeez, Mitch was incredible,’ Watson told cricket.com.au.
‘Even though when AB de Villiers came into bat it was like Mitch was bowling 110kph, but that’s a different story. For all the other normal people … it was incredible to watch.’