Wish I'd Done That

Ollie Pope: 'AB de Villiers was in this ridiculous zone where he had no doubts, no worries'

The England batsman looks back to an innings he wishes he'd played: the fastest ODI century ever

As told to Matt Roller  |  

Far-reaching: no shot too crazy for AB de Villiers

Far-reaching: no shot too crazy for AB de Villiers Duif du Toit / © Getty Images

AB de Villiers: 149 v West Indies, Johannesburg, 2015

I guess the obvious one would be Ben Stokes' Ashes hundred at Headingley, but I'll try to go a little bit more interesting than that. So for me, the innings I wish I'd played is probably AB de Villiers' knock when he whacked a world-record hundred against West Indies in that ODI.

I was just chilling at home. I remember watching it live and it being absolutely ridiculous. I don't think I was doing a lot - I was probably half-watching until he came in, and then he took off and made everyone sit up.

It was one of those innings where his thoughts were completely clear. As a batter, sometimes you get in this state of mind where nothing else matters, where you feel completely invincible. By the looks of it, it happens quite a lot for him. It looked like he felt as though he could hit every single ball out of the park. He was just in this ridiculous zone where he had no doubts, no worries, and everything he tried came off.

The shots that stood out were his hard sweeps off the seamers. He gets on one knee, and he doesn't ramp it or dink it over fine leg - he almost catches up with the ball and actually hits it over fine leg with a full swing of the bat. That is one of the hardest shots you can think of playing - I've tried it a few times, and normally my off stump ends up near the keeper. It's a lot harder than a ramp. That's probably the one that I admire the most. He's got that mix of a touch game and also pure power round the ground.

The fact he came in at 250-odd for 1 is impressive, too. He came in after watching a really big partnership before. In a one-day game, when the guys at the top of the order have got big hundreds, it's easy to just think in your mind that you should play yourself in, maybe get to 20 off 20 balls before you start teeing off. He clearly felt like he could take the attack to the bowlers almost from ball one with no fear, in a very selfless way as well. From that perspective it was very impressive as well, the way he was happy to go from his first ball.

de Villiers was absolutely someone I looked up to growing up. He's one of my favourite players to watch. He's a middle-order batter like me and his stats are still ridiculous. The way he goes about his cricket means he's someone I admire a lot.

It's pretty unrealistic that you're going to be able to bat like that every time you go in, but it was just great to watch. I dig out the highlights from time to time. It was an innings you could watch on repeat.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98