AB ranks as Protea great's best

AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - AB de Villiers is the best batsman in the world at the moment, former teammate Mark Boucher said in Pretoria on Thursday.

"Any time AB gets a 100, it's going be difficult to stop South Africa winning," the former Proteas wicketkeeper said.

"That's why he is the best batsmen in the world, in all formats of the game, as far as I'm concerned."

A passionate conservationist, Boucher was speaking at the announcement of the joint venture between the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy programme and the Blue Bulls, in an effort to bolster the fight against rhino poaching.

His cricket career ended prematurely when he was struck in the left eye by a flying bail during the Proteas' tour of England in 2012.

While the Proteas held the mantle as the number one Test playing nation, they were ranked third in the 50-over format and a World Cup trophy still eluded them.

Boucher rated highly South Africa's chances at the next tournament -- to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in February next year --providing their key players hit their straps at the right time.

"We've got world-class players and, on any given day, if any one of the top six come off, they'll win against any side," he said.

"To have AB in top form is key. There are not too many sides who can bowl to that man at the moment. Any cricketer who has any knowledge of the game just needs to look at AB and can see he is something different.

"So to have him in good form will be half the battle won already ... he's probably a step ahead of anyone in world cricket."

Boucher listed the batting line-up of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and David Miller and said if they all came into form, at the same time, they would be unbeatable.

"There are no weaknesses in the batting and with Quinton de Kock coming through -- he is an immense talent. He's young and goes out and plays his game with freedom, which is awesome.

"The side has a nice balance of skill and maturity which could compete with any of the best batting line-ups in world cricket at the moment. India, when they're on song, have a very strong batting line-up but I think we can match them. It's just about form.

"You have to hit form at the right time in the World Cup. Can you imagine if all six hit form at the same time? Our bowlers would be bowling to scores of around 350 in every game."

Keeping the players fresh and hungry for success was another key element, he said.

"We've never been a side of superstars but we're getting into that mould, so it's about keeping the players nice and hungry and keeping the passion up for them to perform well, day in and day out, for the country.

"The last thing you want is guys going into the World Cup completely drained. We all know there's a lot of cricket being played at the moment, probably too much, so if management decides to rest one or two players for games which we should win fairly easily -- on paper -- then it's up to them to decide.

"Against Australia, we should go in all guns blazing because that's the test. Ultimately you want to be beating those guys and be trying to get one over them before big tournaments.

"But I wouldn't mind if one or two guys were rested in other games to keep them nice and fresh."

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