Cape Town – AB de Villiers, three days short of his 32nd birthday, on Sunday became the 68th member of the “200 caps” global club in one-day internationals ... and he boasts the best batting average of the prestigious group.
It tells you plenty about the Proteas captain’s quality that his average has shifted up to 54.56, aided by his priceless unbeaten 24th century in the series-clinching fifth ODI against England at Newlands.
Purely for South Africa, it actually exceeds 55 (at 55.36) as his career nominally includes five, less successful matches for the Africa XI (average 30.00) around a decade ago in the fairly short-lived and not widely lauded Afro-Asia Cup.
Just in terms of batting average, the only two other batsmen falling into the 50-plus category among the elite 68 players are Australia’s 232-cap Michael Bevan (53.58) and India’s 275-cap MS Dhoni (51.25).
The record for most ODI career appearances is held by Sachin Tendulkar, who played a massive 463 games between 1989 and 2012, and his average of 44.83 is almost a full 10 runs short of where De Villiers currently stands – although in fairness you have to take into account the evolution of ODIs into a gradually faster-paced and more batting-friendly playground.
That said, De Villiers also averages a century every eight innings in ODIs, whereas Tendulkar got one in every 9.22 knocks. The Indian maestro notched 49 tons in 452 innings, whereas De Villiers is just about halfway there in only 192.
Taking into account all ODI players, and not just those who have gone to 200 appearances or more, De Villiers is behind only South African-born Ryan ten Doeschate (67.00 after 33 matches ending in 2011) for career batting average, if you make the qualification at least 20 innings in the format.
But it is a deceptive stat given that Ten Doeschate represented the Netherlands and most of his runs came against lower-tier minnows like Canada, Bermuda, Scotland and Kenya.
Under the 20-innings-or-more criterion, only five other “major power” cricketers join De Villiers in averaging over 50, and all below him: the previously-mentioned Bevan, SA team-mate Hashim Amla (52.13 after 131 games), India’s Virat Kohli (51.51), England’s Jonathan Trott (51.25) and Dhoni.
De Villiers is the sixth South African to now sport 200 ODI caps or more, behind only Jacques Kallis (328), Shaun Pollock (303), Mark Boucher (295), Herschelle Gibbs (248) and Jonty Rhodes (245).
The nearest still-active SA cricketer to getting to 200 is JP Duminy (currently 150 appearances).
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