In an exclusive TV interviews with the ICC, the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer also shared his excitement at the event being staged by Australia and New Zealand for the first time in 23 years.
In a candid interview, Gilchrist, who is sixth in the list of leading run-getters in the history of the World Cup and with 52 dismissals is the most successful wicketkeeper, also reflected on the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999, 2003 and 2007, which Australia won in three different conditions and against three different oppositions.
But heaping praise on de Villiers, Gilchrist said: “De Villiers is the most valuable cricketer on the planet. His versatility is extraordinary and he is amazing to watch.
“He’s so inventive; he can play a touch game or a power game. Then, he can also keep wickets. He’s also one of the best fielders in the world and recently has taken some wickets when he had a bowl. And he leads his team very well, so, I think he’s the most valuable cricketer around.”
De Villiers will feature in his third ICC Cricket World Cup. In 175 ODIs to date, the 30-year-old has scored 7,210 runs with 18 centuries and 42 half-centuries. He has captained South Africa in 56 ODIs, winning 31 matches. Behind the stumps, he has accounted for 88 batsmen.
Closer to home, Gilchrist also tipped Australia’s Mitchell Marsh to make a big impact in the tournament alongside David Warner, while he believed that India’s MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli would have a big say in the destination of the prestigious trophy.
Sharing the excitement about the event to be played between 14 February and 29 March, Gilchrist said: “I think next month’s tournament is going to be really exciting. Conditions, particularly in Australia, are going to be conducive to high scores, entertaining cricket and flamboyant play.
“In New Zealand, there are more result-based wickets on offer, as there’s normally a bit in them for the bowlers. The batsmen might struggle a bit more over there but I think we’re going to see an exciting and a close tournament.
Reflecting on his time at the ICC Cricket World Cup, which saw Australia complete a hat-trick of titles, Gilchrist said: “They were all very different (tournaments). In 1999 (in England), we just scraped through. We lost two of our first three games and one slip-up and we knew we were out of the tournament. So, we were on a knife’s edge, including the famous tied semi-final (against South Africa). It was close.
“In 2003 (in South Africa), again we were a little bit shaky early on, but we got it right. We had a few close calls where a number of games went right down to the wire and it took some flashes of individual brilliance to get us over the line. We ended up winning undefeated, but it was a lot closer than that.
“In 2007 (in the West Indies), we just dominated. Guys like Glenn McGrath and Matthew Hayden were taking opponents out of play, so that was probably the ‘cruisier’ tournament. Not without hard work or commitment, but certainly there was a bit more of a relaxed view certainly compared to the other two.
“All three tournaments were very individual in their own right, but they were all wonderful memories.” Courtesy ICC