Cricket legend from South Africa, AB de Villiers, has listed three of the hardest bowlers he has ever faced. In an interview with Robin Uthappa, the former captain of South Africa named late Australian legend Shane Warne, and two active players as the three hardest bowlers he has ever seen, along with explanations for each.
De Villiers explained the battles he faced against all three of the bowlers including Shane Warne, Jasprit Bumrah, and Rashid Khan. While he faced Shane Warne very early in his career, as a youngster, the duels against Jasprit Bumrah and Rashid Khan are quite recent for him.
The innovative batsman recalled his face-off against Warne, which came in 2006 in Australia and said, "I think Shane Warne in 2006 the first time I travelled to Australia, not so much because of skill and technique and also just the presence of the man and the aura he carried. And obviously, I was quite inexperienced.”
Even though the circumstances were not favourable for Warne, De Villiers said that it was challenging to confront the bowler because of Warne's intimidating demeanour. De Villiers recalls scoring sixty runs in that match, but Warne always had an out due to his talent for reading batters.
The striker struggled against Warne throughout as he averaged just 15 with a strike rate of 76.15 and six dismissals across T20s and Tests. The duo unfortunately did not take the field in ODIs even once.
Talking about India’s very own pacer Jasprit Bumrah, AB said, "Bumrah was always very challenging because he was so competitive, he would never back down, is always in your face so I’ve got a lot of respect for him and the way he plays his cricket. I got a hold of him even a few times. He came back at me and got a hold of me a few times and I love that competitiveness,"
Mr 360° has had an upper edge over Bumrah in the white ball formats across the IPL as well as Internationals, but Bumrah has emerged on top in the toughest format, Tests.
In Tests, Bumrah has dismissed the veteran thrice in three Tests and the batter averages just 19.3. The two haven’t faced much in ODIs but the batsman has a striking record against Bumrah in all forms of T20s. Bumrah has picked up AB’s wicket just thrice in eight years and conceded runs at a strike rate of 147.1 and the average is also on the higher side at 41.7.
Speaking about Afghanistan’s gun spinner Rashid Khan, he said that Rashid stood out because he was unafraid to continue pursuing his wicket with an attacking delivery even after being struck for runs.”Rashid Khan, tough to pick at night once again. Got him a few times and he would always come back. Always in your face. He hit him with three sixes, as he was trying to get me out the next ball. And those are the kind of bowlers I always found difficult to face and always had a lot of respect for," said the South African.
In T20Is, AB De Villiers has astronomical figures against the crafty spinner. He averages infinite at a massive strike rate of 388.9. On the other hand, he has struggled a bit in franchise cricket. He averages 26.3 at a strike rate of 123.4 with three dismissals.
AB De Villiers was one of the greatest batsmen ever to grace the Protea colours. He had a range of innovative shots as well as gritty orthodox textbook shots. This made him almost invincible in all formats of the game. With several unbeaten records in the game, he certainly retired as one of the greatest ever.