De Villiers smashed 149 off 44 balls, reaching three figures off just 31 deliveries, in the most outrageous innings every played in ODI cricket, but it did ring true when he said it had not been his best ball-striking day.
“I have hit the ball better before, believe it or not, but it was just one of those exceptional days when you get a couple out of the middle of the bat and then everything just clicks. Today it just happened for me.
“On this ground, if you’re in decent form, you swing hard and have a bit of luck, then amazing things can happen and it’s very difficult to stop you, like Ricky Ponting and Herschelle Gibbs have shown in the past,” De Villiers said.
It was a top-class display of innovation and imagination from De Villiers, who fashioned 25 boundaries – nine fours and 16 sixes – from the 44 balls he faced, often playing strokes that bordered on the impossible.
“In today’s cricket you have to read the game and most batsmen do premeditate what they’re going to do. You can’t just let the bowlers bowl at you, you have to put them under pressure, so there were definitely quite a few premeditated shots by me today,” De Villiers admitted, making his superhuman efforts sound almost mundane.
It sounded even more corny when De Villiers said he had practically begged coach Russell Domingo to let David Miller go in ahead of him because he felt the left-hander could have added “even more fuel” to the brilliant opening stand of 247 in 38.3 overs between Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw.
While never considering themselves dead certs for the World Cup, De Villiers said Sunday’s overwhelming victory over the West Indies was a step in the right direction for the team as they look to go to Australasia believing they are the best team there.
“There’s no doubt a performance like this is a tremendous help for the confidence, which is 80 to 90% of sport. I believe we’re getting better, getting confidence is what this series is all about, and we want to go to the World Cup believing we are the best. No team has ever won the World Cup not thinking they’re the best team in the tournament,” South Africa’s ODI captain said.
Denesh Ramdin has been around the international circuit for nearly 10 years and he described De Villiers’ knock as one of the best he had ever seen; the rookie Rossouw said the number one ranked ODI batsman was playing the game at a different level to everyone else.
“I was just speechless watching AB, it was out of this world. He’s a freak, on a level of his own. It’s just not right scoring a hundred off 31 balls!
“Those who didn’t watch the innings really missed out because seeing is believing,” Rossouw said of his skipper’s extraordinary exploits.