Is AB de Villiers great, or just very good?

Beardan Roar Guru

By Beardan, Beardan is a Roar Guru

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    There’s no doubt AB de Villiers is entering the twilight of his career.

    At 34 years of age he already has 14 years of international cricket under his belt. We now have enough information to rate him alongside the past’s great cricketers. Is he an all-time great?

    Let’s start with Test cricket. De Villiers’s 8338 runs at 49.92 is certainly outstanding. No matter what era you have played in, to average 50 over 110 matches must have you up there with the greats. However, if we break this down a bit more, it’s not so pretty for De Villiers.

    The South African averages above 50 against Zimbabwe, higher than 60 against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and 84 against the West Indies. With all due respect to those nations, they haven’t exactly been filled with success over the last decade or so.

    Against Australia he averages an excellent 48.26. It is 42 against England, a decent drop on his overall average. It is sub-40 against New Zealand and India.

    (AP Photo/Theron Kirkman)

    The case for De Villiers is that he’s a better batsman overseas than he is at home. Virat Kohli’s away average of 45, is not bad, though quite a bit down on his average of 63 at home. David Warner may average 59 at home, but he manages only 36 away from Australia.

    De Villiers averages 50.68 away and 45.90 at home. Other players to average over 50 away in the modern era include Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Smith and Joe Root –
    certainly quality company.

    In the one-day game there can be no doubt he is a great. In fact his numbers stack up so well that he must be considered among the top five to have ever played the format.

    He has played just 20 more matches than Virat Kohli and has an inferior record to him but, let’s face it, so does everyone else. However, it isn’t too far behind. Kohli averages 58, ABD averages 53, both are brilliant.

    (AAP Image/ Joe Castro)

    ABD’s strike rate is over 100, which is breathtaking for a player who has made over 9000 runs. No-one has matched him in this department. For the record Kohli stands at an impressive 92.

    His 25 centuries is down on Kohli’s 35, but Kohli has gone beyond what anyone has ever done in terms of churning out centuries, and 25 is a great return.

    In terms of centuries ABD has scored half the amount Sachin Tendulkar has – 25 compared to 49 – and his 228 games is around half Tendulkar’s total of 463. Sachin isn’t a bad person to have a similar record with.

    ABD is missing a world cup trophy in the middle format of the sport. He looked absolutely shattered after South Africa’s heartbreaking defeat to New Zealand in the 2015 tournament. He has one more chance to rectify his by influencing his nation’s fortunes at next year’s competition in England and Wales.

    Is ABD an all-time great? In one-dayers the answer is clear, but in Test cricket the data is debatable.

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    The Crowd Says (47)

    • February 19th 2018 @ 3:28am
      DavSA said | February 19th 2018 @ 3:28am | ! Report

      Beardan I suspect you have nailed this one. ABDV in my humble opinion may well be the greatest ODI batsman ever .But not a cricketing test great. He is a reflection of our times . He has made an enormous amount of money playing T20 ,specifically in India . Were he to be compared to a Bradman, Pollock , Lara, Kallis , Tendulkar , Ponting , etc ..apologies to anyone I have left out here……it would be unfair as he is required as is so many top batsmen today to adjust playing styles to various formats constantly. Those I have mentioned would not have had quite the same challenges. What is he to do? Ignore the massive financial rewards of IPL or focus on becoming a test cricketing great? Its a no brainer really. But …..He is an amazing cricketer , be it fielding , keeping or batting.Would however keep the captaincy away from him.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 11:04pm
        Beardan said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

        Thanks mate. Great feedback. Agree with the captaincy bit, and the rest of it. Didnt mention a beautiful pair of hands and a quality fielder anywhere. Thanks for the excellent feedback!

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 4:21am
      Saurabh Gandle said | February 19th 2018 @ 4:21am | ! Report

      If you look at his contribution he has 217* against India in India,278* against Pak in Pak ,174 against Eng in England,106* against Aus at Perth .He has been part of two series wins in Australia , draws in India,wins in England and his number definitely rank him among the match winners .What do you mean by great ? Is it just purely by numbers or match winning contribution? Your wordings revolve around numbers but match winners isn’t just by number .It’s by match winning innings ,it could be 40* in tough circumstances as well .A hundred in lossing cause surely doesn’t hold any significance for any batsman.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 11:05pm
        Beardan said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:05pm | ! Report

        Great points. He had a bit influence on the recent series against India without making a ton. He turned the first test with a great counter attacking innings. Kumar was bowling well and taking wickets but he took him on and did it well.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 6:11am
      marfu said | February 19th 2018 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      I regard him as a great as it is not just about his numbers but how he has gone about achieving them. He is one of the first I think of when recalling destructive innings as some of his are legendary and he can field and keep as well.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 9:21am
      spruce moose said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      In his pomp he was a great.

      It took him a few more years than normal to figure out exactly what he wanted to be, but then once he figured it out he was seriously good.

      Numerical analysis is only a halfway measurement for greatness. Only he or Kohli can rival Viv Richards in their abilities to destructively take a game away from other team.

      Injuries have robbed him of his destructive pomp now. It’s a shame.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 7:22pm
        Simoc said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

        No. Adam Gilchrist did it regularly.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 2:03pm
          spruce moose said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

          No. Nowhere near to the same effect as Richards, Kohli or AB.

          Gilchrist deserves top billing for that in the test arena, but in ODI’s he was simply carrying on the efforts of others who kickstarted it. Richards, Kohli and AB were doing this while averaging near to 50 or over.

          I’d put Gilchrist at the top of a second tier of quality bats who include Jayasuriya (the man who invented modern ODI opening), Sehwag and to a lesser extent, Chris Gayle. It’s kind of been forgotten since he became a T20 mercenary, but he is the holder of a very good ODI career.

          it seems bizarre to say this, but Gilchrist wouldn’t make my all time ODI 1st XI.

          • Roar Guru

            February 20th 2018 @ 2:05pm
            Paul Dawson said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            I guarantee you if your ODI first XI played a game against a 2nd XI and Gilly was in it, you’d be ruing your decision after the first ten overs

            • February 20th 2018 @ 4:55pm
              spruce moose said | February 20th 2018 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

              I really wouldn’t. I accept it’s a huge call to not have him in an all-time best ODI team. I recall many a big booming innings by Gilchrist.

              Is Gilchrist a top 5 or top 10 all time ODI cricketer? Yes. Absolutely. But can he fit into a first XI when roles/responsibilities are taken into account? For me, no.

              Gilchrist is an excellent opener, and Dhoni is an excellent finisher. Both played their role to perfection in world cup victories. But, there are more better openers than Gilchrist than there are better finishers than Dhoni. Thus Dhoni gets the nod. He’s also the captain in this team.

              First XI

              Tendulkar, Amla, Richards, Kohli, AB de Villiers, Dhoni, Akram, Warne, McGrath, Bond (short career – wildly good though), Murali.

              I’m not a big allrounder fan, and I wouldn’t necessarily see the need for an allrounder with my top order. Any all time best XI doesn’t need one. You have to assume each would perform their job to the degree their reputation expects. I would have no objection if someone wanted to replace Bond with Waqar.

              Before people kibosh Amla – remember that the man strikes at 90, averages 50 (which as an opener is borderline absurd) and is quietly breaking all the run records Kohli sets.

              To be honest, if my team bowled first, I doubt they’d be chasing anymore than 150 anyway, so who cares who is batting! :p

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 9:54am
      The Bush said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      Great batsman and as you say, a great in ODI cricket, but I don’t think a great in Test Cricket. At the end of the day his record is basically the same as Michael Clarke’s and I doubt too many would consider Clarke a great of Test Cricket.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 11:07pm
        Beardan said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

        I think comparing him to Michael Clarke is a pretty accurate comparison. Record wise and contribution wise.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 10:49am
      Sean said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:49am | ! Report

      That away average in tests is very telling. Run scoring in South Africa has been trickier than most other countries and that weighs on his overall record. No doubt that had he had Australia as a home base over the last decade his stats would look more impressive.

      • Roar Guru

        February 19th 2018 @ 3:20pm
        Matt H said | February 19th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        Good point.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 7:16pm
        John Erichsen said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

        Yep. If ABDV was Australian, playing on the flat tracks of the past few years, his home average would be 70 and Smith’s number one test ranking would be a close race.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 11:08pm
          Beardan said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

          Agree with everything here. SA got two green tops in the recent series where as Australia got 5 roads. The road in Melbourne was so flat it made Alaistair Cook look like he could bat! 😉

          • Roar Rookie

            February 20th 2018 @ 11:08am
            Pedro The Fisherman said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

            Crap. 4-0 in an Ashes Series suggests that results pitches were produced.
            Adelaide under lights also was far from a “road”. Perhaps you could actually watch the games before commenting next time?

            • February 20th 2018 @ 12:50pm
              Beardan said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

              Adelaide wasnt a road, that’s true. Rest were roads. I watched it. They were slowish roads. Perth had a bit of bounce but mostly roads. Melbourne’s wicket was farcical.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 21st 2018 @ 10:33am
                Pedro The Fisherman said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

                What is your definition of a “road”?
                Melbourne = Yes! The rest = No!

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