AB de Villiers, Prince Of Thieves

AB didn’t arrive in Australia by plane. He came in old-style, on a ship, wearing a suit and playing deck quoits. It was captured on newsreel. Because AB is a throwback to simpler times.

He is a scratch golfer, despite the fact he rarely plays. He might have been a rugby or tennis pro, but chose cricket instead. He doesn’t just bat and take slip catches for fun, he keeps wicket as well. When he retires, he will probably fly bi-planes, appear in movies, marry a gal who’ll unite the disparate sectors of South African society and spend the rest of his life robbing the rich and giving to the poor.

Men like AB used to exist. CB Fry not only captained Sussex and England, he broke the world long jump record, played in the FA Cup Final, turned out for the Barbarians at rugby, wrote speeches for Ranjitsinjhi at the League of Nations, published a magazine about himself and turned down the throne of Albania. Max Woosnam won an Olympic gold medal, the Davis Cup and the Wimbledon doubles, captained Manchester City, scored a hundred at Lord’s, played scratch golf, made a 147 in snooker and beat Charlie Chaplin at table tennis. Using a butter knife. Even the great WG, in his younger days, took time out from scoring a double hundred at the Oval to win the quarter-mile hurdles at Crystal Palace.

The South Africans have some players worth watching. It’s just that Herschelle Gibbs, Andreas Nel, Albie Morkel and Justin Kemp aren’t in the team. That means, by default, AB needs to step up. He’s had an easy ride for too long. Otherwise we’re going to be relying on Neil McKenzie and Big Jacques for our kicks.

Source: The Old Batsman – December 17, 2008

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