Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Book review: AB de Villiers reveals his passion for cricket in autobiography

Arijeet Dutta | September 25, 2016 2:54 pm Print
A wonderful engrossing anecdote of a global superstar batsman, whose popularity is at its zenith wherever he plays and whichever side he turns up for
A B De Villiers : AB - The Autobiography

When one has his name chanted wherever he plays irrespective of the team he turns up for, one has to be a very special player. That is what exactly South Africa’s Test and ODI skipper AB de Villiers is about – a global superstar whose affable nature has made him one of the most loved cricketers today. AB, the autobiography of AB de Villiers, is a story of one the modern day greats, whose audacity and consistency has ensured his place among the legends of this wonderful game.
Candid and honest, AB speaks at length about his childhood, growing up in South Africa. His deep interest in sports. His interest in tennis (German icon Steffi Graf was a firm favourite) and rugby, and eventually moving to cricket. It is a story of the youngest of the three talented, sports mad brothers. Of a youngster who made his international debut at the age of 20 and soon became an integral part of the South African team, be it any format. A batsman who has simply redefined the art of batting with his amazing blistering stroke play and is today rated as the best batsman in Test, T20 and ODI.

His on-field brilliance has made him a crowd favourite world over. Chants of ‘ABD, ABD, ABD’ are heard in stadiums wherever he plays – whether he plays for the South African team or his Indian Premier League team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Whether he is delighting his home crowds at Wanderers or New lands, or setting new records in Bengaluru or for the matter in Sydney or Perth , he plays the game in a whole-hearted manner that projects a positive image of his country around the world, and also makes millions of South Africans feel good among themselves. He is a fighter and never gives up. And in his own words, he says: “In my mind, respect is never earned by natural ability to hit the ball or field well. Respect is only ever earned by being a fighter. That’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to be known as a fighter. There have been thousands of talented players, but there are handful of real fighters and I wanted to be one of them.”

In the book, AB recalls his dream of playing for South Africa. He wanted to emulate his idol Jonty Rhodes. And gives huge respect to the three cricket doyens of South Africa – Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher. And how privileged and honoured he was to have played cricket along with them. How they celebrated victories and agonised on losing matches played round the world.

Being a phenomenal player from South Africa, AB continues to search for a dream – An ICC World Cup title won by South Africa. A trophy that he is desperate to lay his hands on. It is not that South Africa does not have the firepower at its disposal, but surprisingly it has failed to come to good when it matters most. Losing out match which it should have won easily. Unfortunately for the Proteas, heartbreaking losses like the last being 2015 World Cup semi-finals in Auckland against New Zealand have been many in their cricket history. And with each loss, the South African team has rather earned a dubious adage of ‘Chokers’. It is an adage they are desperate to get rid off. But unable to shake off.

It is no doubt that AB is one of the biggest names in the Indian Premier League and he gives his IPL team the star power and is one of the most watched sides on the tournament. The RCB already is a heavy power outfit – led by India Test skipper and one of the best batsman in world cricket today Virat Kohli, there is the marauding West Indian Chris Gayle and add to that consistent de Villiers.

One of the best things of IPL in recent times is that it gave ardent cricket fans the opportunity to watch two of the very best batsmen in world cricket today – Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers bat in tandem. The crowd is treated to an awesome run feast when the duo is in full flow. Breathtaking aggression, audacious stroke play, and power running between wickets are attributes when they are toying with the bowlers in the middle. It is cricket at its best. Where all do you get a chance to see the two best batsmen playing together in the middle and create magic – no where but IPL. The cash rich league may have had its fair share of controversies, but the fan following remains intact. It is a platform that brings some of the best young talents chance to rub shoulders with legends of the game.

De Villiers has given the IPL a huge thumbs up and loves playing cricket in India. AB says he is inspired by India, and says: “This great country that has provided me with so many opportunities has become so important in my career.”
He points out how India has changed for international cricketers. Earlier, cricketers who came to play in India much before the IPL always used to complain about the food, hotels and training facilities. But that is not the case anymore. Big money in IPL and mass adulation by cricket crazy fans have changed things fantastically. In his own words, the Indian Premier League will surely continue to grow and develop, leading to “the evolution of the game in many respects, and I hope to participate for a few more years not least because , taking the size of the crowds, the noise and the atmosphere, the most inspiring place to play cricket is India”.

A true sportsman that he is, AB has his feet firmly grounded and is quick to deflect praise, praise opponents and work hard tirelessly to conquer the team’s next goal. And he, despite his phenomenal achievements ,considers himself lucky and privileged to be picked to represent his country.  All in all, AB is a must read for all ABD fans.

About the Book :
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Arijeet Dutta