For AB de Villiers, the IPL represented a real turning point in his career.
The one stage he had perhaps not fully illuminated was international T20 cricket, where he often found himself batting too low in the line-up and with not enough time to make an impact.
He rectified that through the IPL, where he is one of the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s most successful players. Overall, from his 13 seasons primarily with them but also with Delhi Daredevils AB is the sixth highest run scorer in IPL history, with 4,894 at an average of over 40.
In a memorable match in the 2014 edition of the competition, De Villiers smacked his countryman Dale Steyn for 23 runs in one over.
So, when he names 11 players who have most impressed him in IPL history, he is somebody to listen to. He picks just one fellow Protea and perhaps not surprisingly, it isn’t Steyn.
But who did he tell Cricbuzz gets the De Villiers seal of approval?
Starting at the top, he went back to fellow 2008 IPL veteran Virender Sehwag alongside Rohit Shama, explaining the decision thus: “Last night, I was thinking that if I pick my IPL XI and I include myself, how bad would that look? So, opening the batting, I would pick someone whom I started with at Delhi, Viru [Virender Sehwag] at No 1 and someone who I think has played some of the best cricket in the world in the last five years, Rohit at No 2”.
First wicket down is his RCB captain Virat Kohli. No doubt Virat is there on merit. He does have more runs in IPL history than anyone else. But I wonder though just how frosty atmosphere in the RCB dressing room might have been if AB hadn’t picked his Kohliness?
Who would bat at No 4 was a tougher decision though and AB picked himself, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson as the top candidates. Fearless with bat he may be, but it seems he ducked of a tricky call there: he wanted to pick himself, but didn’t fully commit to the stroke.
There was no indecision about Nos 5 and 6 though, with Ben Stokes included just above Chennai Super Kings legend MS Dhoni, who he awarded the captaincy.
He selected a bowling attack with two spinners – Rashid Khan and Ravindra Jadeja – as well as quicks Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuve Kumar.
So here from AB to Z is that all time XI and some team it is. Although strictly speaking it’s a XIII, ensuring the modest de Villiers is in it without definitively picking himself.
The full line-up is Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers/Kane Williamson/Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kagiso Rabada, Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah.
That’s a total of 1,553 appearances, 30,836 runs and 546 wickets between them. Tough to beat doesn’t begin to describe it!