Alternative Cricketers of the Decade: AB de Villiers’ contributions deserve more recognition

The ICC on Monday announced the winners of its one-off end of the decade awards, with India’s Virat Kohli sweeping the biggest prizes across the board.

While all four winners in the male category were well worth their awards, Sport360 has made our own alternative picks below.

Test Cricketer of the Decade

ICC Pick: Steve Smith (Australia)

Alternative Pick: James Anderson (England)

Anderson

There’s no denying that Steve Smith is a deserving winner of the award after the Australian scored over 7,000 runs at an average of 64.09. However, James Anderson’s contributions over the same period are equally worthy of commendation when his longevity at the top is taken into account.

The England veteran is still going strong at the age of 38, despite shouldering the burden of being a fast bowler in a team that plays more Test cricket than any other nation. Anderson’s exploits over the decade in question has seen the Lancashire man surpass Glenn McGrath to become the leading wicket-taker in history among pacers. His dismissal of Azhar Ali earlier this year to bring up 600 Test wickets was the crowning moment of a superb Test career which stretches all the way back to 2003.

Only his compatriot Stuart Board has claimed more wickets in the last 10 years, although Anderson has maintained the better average. While he might not be the same force in certain overseas destinations, Anderson remains elite when it comes to making the red ball hop around in swinging conditions.

ODI Cricketer of the Decade

ICC Pick: Virat Kohli (India)

Alternative Pick: AB de Villiers (South Africa)

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It is hard to look past Virat Kohli in this discussion, with the India star well on his way to establishing himself as the greatest ever to grace the format. While Kohli’s brilliance leaves the others in his wake, AB de Villiers deserves a mention for taking ODI batting to another level altogether.

Kohli’s consistency over the 10-year period saw the India batsman average a stellar 61.76, but de Villiers still managed to marginally top that with an average of 62.03. Where the South African really separates himself from the rest of the pack is the strike-rate with which he scored his runs. The Proteas stalwart accumulated over 5,500 runs at a rate of more than 111, while also helping himself to 16 tons.

With a strike-rate that is greater than Kohli’s by almost 18, de Villiers has a strong claim to being one of the greatest of this generation. He led South Africa brilliantly from the very front in the 2015 World Cup campaign, only to suffer heartbreak at the hands of New Zealand in the semi-final. Had his playing career not coincided with that of an all-time great, the South African would have swept nearly every award for batsmen.

T20I Cricketer of the Decade

ICC Pick: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

Alternative Pick: Virat Kohli (India)

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In a format which is highly batsman friendly, Rashid Khan’s selection is a fully deserved one. The Afghan has, after all, propelled himself as the leading wicket-taker in T20I history already with 89 scalps in just 41 games. While Kohli might have his hands full after bagging the ODI award as well the topmost honour, the India skipper’s ridiculous consistency makes him a strong contender for the shortest format as well.

It is important to remember that Rashid debuted only in 2015 and is yet to feature regularly against the top cricketing nations such as Australia, India and England. Without taking anything away from the Afghanistan man’s contributions, the fact that Kohli has managed to average more than 50 with the bat across a span of a decade does carry plenty of weight.

That nearly one in every three innings of his in the 20-over format has resulted in a half-century is a staggering statistic. Some of his best T20I displays have come at the biggest stage of the World Cup, and the lack of an ICC title remains the only blemish on his astonishing record.

It really tells you something about Kohli’s dominant decade that he has been possibly overlooked in this category due to a case of plenty with his other awards.

ICC Cricketer of the Decade

ICC Pick: Virat Kohli (India)

Alternative Pick: (AB de Villiers)

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Virat Kohli’s domination in all three formats makes him a shoe-in for this award, though there are other notable contenders for this crown in the form of Steve Smith, David Warner and AB de Villiers. What holds Smith back slightly in this debate is that he hasn’t been able to impose a similar kind of impact in the limited-overs format.

It is de Villiers and Warner who comes closest to Kohli with their all-format displays, and it is the former who has touched taller peaks. Between 2012 and 2015, the South African was in blistering form in both the red and white ball formats. He held the No1 ranking in Test as well as ODI cricket for two years running in 2013 and 2014.

It is a shame that the South African bid adieu to international cricket at the peak of his powers, for he could certainly have given the ‘Fab Four’ a run for their money.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long added to this report.