I remember the second test match that AB de Villiers played. It started on Boxing day in December 2004.
The reason that game comes to mind so readily is that during that test against England he was one of my guests on Extra Cover after the third day’s play. He was absolutely terrified.
The thought of being in the spotlight for 60 minutes was more than he could stomach and this young, shy, Afrikaans kid from Pretoria could hardly string a sentence together. He had a mate with him on the show for comfort, who had a large, silver, speech impeding stud pierced through his tongue!
The studded Dale Steyn chipped in admirably but it was AB who squirmed and battled through the interview and breathed a massive sigh of relief when the credits rolled.
How times have changed.
AB today is a confident and assured individual who has evolved into a world class cricketer. He is a likeable bloke who is clearly now a leader within the inner circles of the team.
He won’t duck issues and when challenged in the midst of battle will stand up and be counted. In the last test, when he was on the receiving end of some heated accusations from Umar Gul, he gave as much as he got and relished the opportunity to deliver a well directed spray or two. You would want him in your trench.
I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed his latest test achievement in Abu Dhabi first hand as he slaughtered the Pakistan attack to the tune of 278 not out in just over ten hours at the crease. It was an extraordinary knock in the desert and the highest individual score by a South African in tests. It brought Pakistan to their knees.
Such is the grounding that AB has, at times he even looked slightly embarrassed about his achievements as he plundered the attack. He even pleaded with the skipper to declare at tea when he was 14 runs short of Smith’s individual record.
AB is a steely, determined personality who has stamped his class on the game. Fast forward ten years and consider for a moment what an impact he will have had on South African cricket.
The Extra Cover studio lights shone brightly on a new star way back in December 2004.
Now his own star is blindingly bright.
Source: SuperSport Cricket – November 24, 2010 / MIKE HAYSMAN