10 reasons why AB de Villiers is a genius with the bat
AB de Villiers has all the shots in the book and many shots that cannot be found in any coaching manuals © AFP
AB de Villiers has all the shots in the book and many shots that cannot be found in any coaching manuals © AFP

AB de Villiers is the ultimate genius of the game redefining batting in every format — a batsman who can change the course of a game in quick time by manufacturing shots that is difficult to for mere mortals to even imagine.

10 reasons why AB de Villiers is a genius

1:  360 degree range of innovative shot-making
AB de Villiers has all the shots in the book and many shots that cannot be found in any coaching manuals. He can hit a fast bowler for a six over fine-leg or third man, like he did to Dale Steyn, when he took him for 24 runs in an over and turned the match on its head in last year’s edition of IPL. He can hit a ball from well outside the leg-stump to over the offside field and vice-versa. He can even sweep a fast bowler or smash a yorker. The possibilities are endless when de Villiers is at the crease.

2:  Manipulates the field
AB de Villiers is not just a living nightmare for the bowlers; he is as much a nightmare for the captains as well. How does one set a field to a genius who has multiple answers for a single delivery? And he hits both the conventional and the unconventional shots with consummate ease. His shots defy logic. His incredible reflexes, bat speed and quick hands make him look a creature from another planet. There is just one thing the bowlers and captains at the receiving end of de Villiers can do: seek celestial boon to get him out cheaply

3:  Versatility in the line-up
AB de Villiers is the most versatile batsman in contemporary cricket. He is absolutelycomfortable batting in any position in any formatFor instance, in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians (MI) earlier this season, de Villiers smashed 41 off 11 deliveries batting at No five, whereas in their second encounter against the same team on Sunday he scored a tenacious 133 off 59 deliveries batting at No 3. His performance at distinct positions is a testament to his versatility.

4:  Ease against all types of bowling
Normally batsmen are either good playing pace or spin. But, then, de Villiers is not normal! He dexterously destroys pace with the same brilliance he destroys spin. His quick feet movements, staying low and playing late against the spin stands him out among his imminent peers.

5:  Ability to switch gears
AB de Villiers has to his credit the fastest 50, 100 and 150 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). He is well capable of shifting his gears in no time and can provide impetus to any stagnant scoreboard.In the recently-concluded World Cup, he broke the world record for fastest hundred when he registered a career-defining century off 31 deliveries in a group match against West Indies. He remained unbeaten on 162 off 66 deliveries. De Villiers can also put his head down and grind his way through if the situation warranted with the same ease with which he is a plundering mood.

6:  Ability to perform on a consistent basis
AB de Villiers has been one of the most prolific run-scorer for every team he has featured in his career. He averages 52.09 in Tests and 53.65 in One Day International (ODI), whereas in T20 his average is just over 31 at a strike-rate of 139.86 ; a testament to his consistency across every format.

7:  Ability to play short ball to perfection
For most batsmen, the short ball is disconcerting. But for AB de Villiers, confronting short pitch deliveries and playing it with precision is a trademark of his genius. He is one of the best pullers of the short ball in the game. He reads the length quite early and gets himself in a position where he can deal with the short pitch deliveries with ease.

8:  Psychological factor

Such is the aura of AB de Villiers, that he wins many battles for his teams even before he even faces the first ball. His mere presence in the opposition line-up is an intimidating factor; he messes up the bowlers’ mind with his fearsome reputation. One saw on Sunday how even Chris Gayle, one of the most destructive batsmen in the shortest form of cricket, was flabbergasted at his team-mate’s pyrotechnics against the Mumbai Indians.

9:  Calm mind
Despite the unrestrained violence he unleashes with the bat with such regularity, AB de Villiers is one of the calmest cricketers in the world. And this calmness of mind helps him in any situation against any bowler anywhere in the world in any format.

10:  Supercomputer for brain
When a world class bowler like Dale Steyn is bowling and at that speed, the normal mindset of mere mortals is one of survival. Good batsmen produce intermittent shots against such bowlers, but there is only one de Villiers who can systematically and consistently tear apart the fastest bowlers with clinical precision. It takes microseconds for the ball to reach the bat after it has left the hand of a bowler like Steyn. To conceive and execute the kind of brilliance that de Villiers does so jaw-droppingly consistent, the response of the brain to the situation has to be much, much quicker. This is why one gets the feeling that he has a supercomputer instead of a brain!

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)