AB de Villiers is the best batsman in world cricket at present in all formats of the game. With an average of 52.09 and 54.21 in Test and ODI respectively, he has been a nightmare to bowlers, who have been clobbered all over the ground with ridiculous ease.
Experts and former cricketers have been astonished to see the South African batsman dominate bowlers with such commanding proficiency. The recently-concluded ODI series against India also witnessed the best of de Villiers, who scored three centuries to help South Africa beat M S Dhoni and his men.
Such has been his batting performances for the last two years or so that de Villiers has already drawn comparisons with a number of top batsmen over the years, including Sachin Tendulkar. Though it might be too early to compare him to Sachin, de Villiers is gradually inching towards Tendulkar-like-greatness.
Former South Africa cricketer Petrus Stephanus de Villiers, aka Fanie de Villiers, believes AB will become even more popular than Sachin.
"AB is going to be more popular than Sachin Tendulkar in world cricket. That's the calibre of the person we are talking about; that's the cricketer we are talking about; that's the loveable, marketable player we are talking about. He is in the Sachin Tendulkar category. If you are in the Tendulkar category , when it comes to marketing the game of cricket, you are special," Fanie told The Times of India in an interview.
One cannot ignore AB's brilliance irrespective of where he plays, which brings the crowd to their feet. His last century against India in the fifth ODI in Mumbai was cheered on by the local crowd, which shows his popularity in the international circuit.
Both Tendulkar and AB have been great ambassadors of the game. However, Sachin, despite having retired from the game, is still one of the most respected cricketers in the world for what he has achieved in his career.
Fanie believes AB is better than even Tendulkar in ODIs. AB has scored 8,403 runs in 195 ODIs, while Tendulkar, who played 463 ODIs, is more than 10,000 runs ahead.
Tendulkar finished his ODI career with 18,426 runs, but the way AB has been batting, it will not be surprising if he comes close to Sachin's ODI runs, which still looks like a daunting task, if not downright impossible.
"You can compare his records with Tendulkar's; you feel this guy is even better than Tendulkar in ODIs. You can compare his popularity around the world and at home. He is in the category of Sachin Tendulkar," said Fanie.
"It's a privilege to be in that class or category on and off the field. He is very much the same as Tendulkar. The moment you start going for all kinds of off-field flash and bling, you develop a flaw in your personality. You are trying to show not what you are."