‘Alien’ de Villiers. ‘Freak’ de Villiers. Superman. Legend. Every adjective falls short in describing the magic and mastery of AB de Villiers when it comes to limited-overs cricket. De Villiers has the fastest 50, 100 and 150 in ODIs.
In the IPL, his legendary innovation and shot selection has earned him the monicker ‘Mr 360’.
He can hit shots anywhere. Any ball can be dispatched to the boundary and over the ropes. No bowler intimidates him. He does have a weakness against legspin and left-arm spin. However, even gods have had weaknesses.
Sir Don Bradman also had troubles against legspin so you cannot fault AB de Villiers.
In IPL 2020, AB de Villiers’ batting has been on a different league altogether. His magnificent 73 off 33 balls on a sluggish Sharjah deck where no other batsmen even crossed fifty led Virat Kohli to label him a superman.
Against Rajasthan Royals, with 35 needed off 12 balls, de Villiers was in that zone where nothing was impossible for him. His assault on Jaydev Unadkat and Jofra Archer was testament that Royal Challengers Bangalore were destined to win.
This was the 12th time that AB de Villiers had scored a fifty in 25 balls or less in the IPL, equal with David Warner.
The fact that Warner gets time by opening the innings, de Villiers’ feat is simply unbelievable because of the fact that he comes slightly lower down the order and rescues the team from every position with his calculated power hitting.
How does AB de Villiers manage to achieve such audacious hitting with such consistency? The answer lies in two things
Trigger movement and a still head
If one watches AB de Villiers’ batting, you can observe two things. Before the ball is bowled, there is a very slight trigger movement. Slight is the most important word here. The trigger movement is just about right to get him in line with the ball and judge the length.
The next crucial factor is the stillness of AB de Villiers’ head when he hits. Generating power and clearing the boundaries requires fast hands and a very still head. A still head ensures that the power you generate in a shot is uniform and is timed well.
In the knocks against Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals, with every six that de Villiers hit, one observed how still his head was.
The stillness of his head and the trigger position that is generated are two very important factors in the genius of AB de Villiers. The trigger opens up the legside totally and he can hit his shots in the arc from fine leg to long on.
His trigger movement also ensures he is in a better position for shots through the off side, most notably over deep extra cover and square third man.
The brilliance of genius is that some simple things are done just about right to create an aura of brilliance. In the case of AB de Villiers, his two simple things of a just about right trigger movement and a still head ensures that his batting is spectacular and a work of art. Truly, there is no better genius in the batting in today’s modern era than AB de Villiers.
Please reconsider your retirement.