Fondly known as Mr. 360 degree because of his repertoire of strokes, AB de Villiers is widely deemed as the most audacious batsman in the modern cricket.
De Villiers is the proud owner of the record of fastest fifty (16 balls), hundred (31 balls) and 150 runs (64 balls) in One-Day Internationals. Moreover, he is the only batsman in ODI history to have an average of above 50 with a strike-rate of 100+. Also, all of his ODI tons have come at a strike rate of more than 100.
It’s been two weeks since AB de Villiers called time on his illustrious international career, but the heartfelt messages and tribute pieces are still pouring in for the Proteas batting maverick.
In an exclusive interview with ESPNCricinfo, legendary South Africa pacer Dale Steyn recently described the genius of AB and how he scored that majestic 31-ball hundred against West Indies in pink ODI in 2015, despite falling down the dressing room stairs while going out to bat.
"I remember him (De Villiers) urging Russell Domingo [then South Africa's coach] to send David Miller in because he felt Miller could clear the ropes. Russell said, "No, you go", to AB. He was reluctant, but eventually said "fine" and rushed out of the change room.
"There are a couple of stairs as you step out of the change room at the Wanderers. As he ran out, he almost saw his arse on the first step. It is not on TV. When he came out to the ground he looked cool and composed, but he had almost fallen flat on his face," Steyn quoted.
Steyn also picked that knock (149 runs off 44 balls with 9 fours and 16 sixes) as his favorite AB de Villiers innings.
"The pink game [against West Indies] where he hit the fastest ODI hundred. From ball one he just turned it on and it was chaos after that. So West Indies need to blame Russell Domingo and David Miller for that record," he added.
During that knock, AB also set the record for the fastest half-century by reaching the mark in just 16 balls.
De Villiers and Steyn made their Test debuts in the same match – against England in 2004 in Port Elizabeth. Recalling the memories of his maiden Test with De Villiers, Steyn said: “We also made our first-class debuts together [for Northerns] in 2003 and not long after that we played our first Test together. We ended up with quite a lot of matches together.”
“What not many people are aware of is that we actually played a little bit against other in our teens. AB was playing then for Northerns and I was playing for Limpopo in provincial school cricket. Then we were playing against each other in the Coca-Cola Cricket Week, which is when all the provincial schools come together and from which the junior school team for South Africa is picked. So from about the age of 11 we have played together. The thing about him was: you were drawn to him. I remember AB when he was 11. I can't remember many of the others. It wasn't because of his cricket that I remember AB. It was because of who he was: a charismatic child who grew up to become this amazing guy,” he elaborated.
When asked to rate De Villiers as a person, Steyn termed him as a wonderful man.
"It would be unfair of me to tell you what kind of a person AB de Villiers is off the field because he keeps that private. He is a wonderful man. He is game for anything, absolutely anything," he concluded.