There’s a new AB de Villiers, literally

Category : AB, Featured, News

South Africa superstar AB de Villiers and his wife Danielle have welcomed a new addition to their very talented family, with Abraham Benjamin de Villiers born at 12.01am on Wednesday.

The like-named son to the Proteas star will no doubt have similar athletic expectations placed upon him in the years to come, but for now news that the child and mother are healthy is enough to bring smiles to the faces of cricket fans worldwide.

“We all feel very blessed and grateful,” de Villiers said after the birth. “Mother and son are both doing well.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by the maternal father of the newest AB.

“Today I became a grandfather!” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Abraham Benjamin De Villiers was born at 12:01 and weighed 3.2Kg. He is a good looking and healthy boy.”

Widely considered one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era, de Villiers pulled out of South Africa’s series in Bangladesh to be present for the birth of his first child – and while there may have been a twinge of regret when Steve Smith overtook him as the top-ranked batsman in Test cricket – that is no doubt a distant memory for the new father.

ICC names De Villiers ODI Player of the Year

Category : AB, Featured

South Africa’s one-day captain AB de Villiers was named ODI Cricketer of the Year, the International Cricket Council announced on Friday.

De Villiers and pace bowler Dale Steyn were the two Proteas picked in the ICC Test Team of the Year and were joined by Quinton de Kock as the three names were also in the ODI Team of the Year.

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was the winner of the Sir Garfield Sobers trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year. The 33-year-old was also named as the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year.

Since the inception of the awards in 2004, Johnson is only the second player after compatriot Ricky Ponting to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy twice. While Johnson previously won this award in 2009, Ponting won back-to-back awards in 2006 and 2007.

England’s Gary Ballance claimed his first-ever ICC award after being named the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year.

Other winners include England’s wicketkeeper-batter Sarah Taylor, who has won the ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year award, Australia opener Aaron Finch, whose 156 runs off 63 balls against England, has won him the ICC T20I Performance of the Year award, Scotland’s Preston Mommsen, who won the ICC Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year award.

Richard Kettleborough of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires won the David Shepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Australia captain Meg Lanning has clinched the ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year award, while England’s Katherine Brunt has won the ICC Spirit of Cricket award, for sportingly asking for a referral when a South Africa batter was adjudged to have been given out caught and the decision was subsequently reversed.

Source: SowetanLive – November 14, 2014

South Africa’s A.B. de Villiers the ultimate all-rounder

Category : AB, Featured, News

It was the eye of the storm: the Centurion Park pitch when Mitch Johnson delivered the 12-wicket haul later rated among the most hostile of recent times. But as Protea after Protea perished, one proved not only resistant to Johnson’s menace but a predator of it.

“It reminded me of when I was really young playing in the backyard with my [older] brothers. It felt like a stage that was set up where I shouldn’t be performing, and then I surprised one or two people,” the predator of Johnson’s high-velocity bowling, A.B.de Villiers, told Fairfax Media. “That’s exactly what happened in the backyard with my brothers – they were really angry with me.”

While survival alone would have been enough to rile the older de Villiers boys, given A.B. was barely strong enough to hold the bat, let alone wield it, when it came to Centurion he had even better in store for Johnson. Two-thirds of the 68 runs Johnson conceded in the South Africa first innings came from the counter-attack of de Villiers, more than half of them in boundaries in an innings where his 91 was almost four times the next-best South African.

“It didn’t feel that difficult to me at the time. My adrenalin was pumping. Everyone was talking about how well I was batting and that it was such a tough wicket, but it honestly didn’t feel that difficult,” de Villiers recalled of the innings that demonstrated why he is rated the world’s top batsman for both Tests and one-dayers. “It doesn’t happen a lot that you see the ball that well and that your feet move that well. That’s why I’m pretty angry with me not getting a hundred and then 80 not out or something like that in the second innings.”

De Villiers is not known as well as he should be for a player of such immense talent, and performances to match. But part of his reputation that has spread far and wide is how obscenely talented he is. He was playing off scratch in golf by his mid-teens, soon after he was ranked in the top two in his age division for tennis in South Africa, but shunned both sports because neither afforded him the team aspect he craved. Rugby, hockey (temporarily) and cricket were the beneficiaries of that, before he settled on the latter.

The energetic right-hander was just a year into his international career when he featured in his first Boxing Day Test at the MCG. During that match he was awestruck to have witnessed Ricky Ponting score a fine century against the Proteas. What stayed with him even more than the quality of the innings was the reaction to him, then just 21, seeking to personally convey his admiration for the Australia captain during the lunch break.

“It was horrible,” de Villiers recalled. “It took a bit of guts [to approach him] because half of the Aussie team was sitting there at the table, but I thought ‘Why not?’ because I was amazed with the way the guy was batting at that stage. I was looking up to him thinking ‘How does this guy just keep performing like this … it’s impossible.’

“I just thought [to say] ‘Mr Ponting, it was an amazing knock, well done.’ He just looked at me like I’d really lost the plot, [as if to indicate] ‘What are you talking about? You’re mad approaching me.’ I can’t remember him saying anything. He just shook his head and kept eating.

“I don’t think he’s such a bad person. He probably just felt the need to have a competitive edge over the opposition. You get funny kinds of senior players; I’m certainly not one of those guys. No matter who congratulates me, I definitely acknowledge it and thank the guy, even though he could be my worst opposition.”

De Villiers is a firm proponent of the “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice” mantra. The first time he played in a Test against Kumar Sangakkara, a brilliant wicketkeeper-batsman, the Sri Lankan made 287 as part of a partnership of 624 runs with Mahela Jayawardene (374) in 2006.

Despite that innings, and the fact the elegant left-hander is the only player in world cricket to have outscored de Villiers and boast a better average since the South African’s debut, de Villiers said it was the way Sangakkara conducted himself on and off the field that was why he looked up to the 36-year-old, and Australian Adam Gilchrist before him.

Of Sangakkara, de Villiers said: “There’s no doubt he’s a world-class player – amazing batter, amazing keeper – but the thing I admire about him most is that he’s an amazing person. A really kind guy, very approachable as well. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I met him.

“I feel the best players in the world, the guys who have the biggest impact on people, are the guys who have people skills – a good personality, a good heart. That’s one thing he’s got that I admire a lot. Skills and the number of runs you score doesn’t matter as much to me.”

That de Villiers is often so cheerful is partly due to his determination to “just wipe negative stuff out of my brain”.

“It might be a weakness of mine, but I honestly forget things like that. Maybe it’s a good thing,” he said. “But I assure you, whenever I fight with someone, no matter who it is, when I have a little bit of an argument two days later, I honestly won’t remember what we were arguing about, even if they’re still angry with me.”

One rare instance in which he has not totally shrugged off criticism relates to him taking over South Africa’s wicketkeeping duties in mid-2012 after the career-ending eye injury to champion gloveman Mark Boucher.

While the media criticism primarily related to a belief South Africa was unnecessarily burdening its best batsman, rather than an indication of his glovework being inadequate, de Villiers conceded he had been stung by the doubts cast, especially during the Proteas’ tour of Australia in late 2012.

“A lot of people thought I shouldn’t be keeping,” he said. “Especially in Australia, I remember there was a lot of writing about it. The amazing thing about writing is you don’t hear about it any more. Now you’re hearing about how amazing that last knock was, meanwhile a year ago he was writing taking the gloves was the worst decision ever.”

De Villiers said he had a lot of work to do on his glovework, but gave a strong indication that even with the recent debut of 20-year-old wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock – the youngster played as a specialist batsman in the second Test – he wanted to retain the gloves. Given that de Villiers has averaged 66.16 with the bat since taking over as wicketkeeper, and just reached 50 for an unprecedented 12th consecutive Test, there is no cause for an imminent change.

“I want to be the best, absolutely,” he said. “I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I’m working hard at my keeping and I still want to become a really world-class keeper.”

During South Africa’s first Test thrashing by Australia the Test vice-captain was refreshingly frank about his team’s performance, declaring its fielding verged on “embarrassing” and that he considered it “quite obvious that we’re in deep trouble and there’s only one team playing this Test match at the moment”.

De Villiers said such honesty was a trait he held as very important.

“I’ve got nothing to hide from anyone, especially in cricketing circles,” he said. “I’ll tell any person in the world my insecurities, I’ll give you my strengths, I’ll give you my weaknesses. I’m not shy about that. I’m also not shy to take on my weaknesses and my insecurities. I love it. I’ll say in a press conference ‘That’s where we went wrong, we were scared of doing this and that – but we’re going to get better at it.'”

While the way de Villiers plays his cricket brings a lot of joy to Test purists, he insisted his own level of happiness was largely irrelevant to what he did – or did not do – on the field.

“I’ve always been happy. I always knew I was going to be all right one day [at playing international cricket] – it was just going to take a bit of time,” he said.

“I’ve realised that, no matter how much success comes your way, you’ve still got to go home and be happy – with your wife, with your dog, with – hopefully – kids one day. That’s the real stuff.

“I think I’ve been very lucky to be where I am now – very fortunate, very happy with life. I just don’t want to get ahead of myself. If I score 50 hundreds in a row I’ll still be the same guy.”

Source: The Age – March 1, 2014 | Jesse Hogan

De Villiers refines T20 hitting

Category : Featured, News

AB de Villiers’ latest Twenty20 onslaught shows he’s currently the most nerveless all-round hitter of a cricket ball around.

There are hitters. There are finishers. There are sloggers. And there are, as Brad Hodge says, “cultured sloggers,” such as AB de Villiers, who have taken Twenty20 batting to another level. After his latest assault on Ashok Dinda tonight, “surreal slogger” is more like it. It wasn’t the fact that de Villiers took 26 runs off the Dinda over. It was the ridiculous regularity with which he kept coming up with different strokes for different deliveries and kept executing them.

Sample these. Very wide ball slog-swept over deep midwicket. Wide ball carted straight over the bowler. Short slower ball smashed flat over long-off. Full delivery reverse-swept to fine third man. Length ball scooped from outside off over short fine leg. Forget Dinda. Last IPL season, de Villiers did the same to Dale Steyn, the highlight being a near-yorker on middle stump lofted over extra cover for six.

It is very well to say that T20 frees the batsman from the bother of having to guard his wicket and in a way, forces him to innovate with the pressing need to score more all the time. While that means a great bowler like Steyn can easily have an off day in the format, it does not explain the almost eerie calm with which de Villiers’ scoops a fast bowler over short fine leg.

This is an incredibly difficult shot to execute, even without the fear that you can get out. And there is also the risk of injuring yourself badly. Brendon McCullum did it with success against the extreme pace of Shaun Tait in 2010, and has said he knew he could have had his jaw smashed, but went for it anyway., as he did not think he could have scored in front of square.

For many batsmen, the scoop is an option to break free. Many bend their knees and go across with clear desperation in their eyes, hoping to connect and avoid getting hit. De Villiers tries this shot regularly, and he makes it appear as normal as if he were going for a cover drive. There is absolutely no desperation about him, neither in expression nor in movement.

And then the reverse sweep to the fast bowler. The way he turned Dinda miles clear of short third man, he might as well have been glancing one off his pads past short fine leg. These are no longer innovations for de Villiers, or ploys to unsettle a bowler. They are as normal a part of his arsenal as orthodox cricketing shots, of which he has plenty as well.

Chris Gayle bulldozes attacks with sheer presence and reach, but he has his hitting zones marked out. Kieron Pollard will go hard and straight. Bowlers can attempt to deny these batsmen what they prefer. How does one attempt to control de Villiers, whose range is 360 degrees?

The first time he was involved in a one-over eliminator scenario, against Delhi Daredevils, he and Gayle took singles off the first three balls. De Villiers couldn’t connect with the fourth. No problem. He sent the last two over deep midwicket for six.

The absence of the need to guard his wicket would have been of little help at that moment. It is a combination of extraordinary skill, pinpoint execution and unbelievable clarity of mind that enables de Villiers to get away with he does. He has got to be the most nerveless all-round hitter of a cricket ball at the moment.

Source: ESPNCricInfo – May 2, 2103 / ABHISHEK PUROHIT

The wonder that is AB

Category : AB, Featured, News

I was commentating on the game between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Monday when I realised once again what a gifted player AB de Villiers is.

He is the sort of batsman that comes along once every 20 years, and in South Africa we are fortunate to have his abundant talents.

The match was meandering along for the Royal Challengers. All the batsmen were struggling to lift the scoring rate. Even the normally dynamic Tillakaratne Dilshan had problems accelerating on the particular surface on which the match was played. Until De Villiers came to the crease it appeared that the Royal Challengers would be lucky to get to 150.

It was remarkable how De Villiers from the outset took control. He changed the pace of the innings from the word go and dominated the bowlers. He scored on both sides of the wicket and invented some extraordinary strokes. In the end the Rajasthan Royals had no idea where to bowl to him. He took the game away from them over a five-over period.

De Villiers is one of those players who oozes raw talent. There are very few players, if any, in the world who make scoring runs look as easy as AB de Villiers does when he is playing well. The only other player in this category at the moment is maybe Virender Sehwag.

It helps as well that De Villiers is a phenomenal athlete. His energy and enthusiam is infectious and he has a positive effect on any team he plays for. He is maturing all the time and his gesture after the match to share his Man of the Match award with one of the young local players who had a good night with the ball, was a nice touch. This will further endear him to his teammates and fans alike.

It is incredible to think that with all the problems South African cricket has experienced over many years, we continue to produce players of the highest quality. Our domestic system hasn’t always functioned as well as it should due to various circumstances and yet we continue to bring through players of true international quality.

This says a lot for the individual spirit and commitment of some of the players in our system. Despite adversity the players rise to the occasion and do South Africa proud. Long may this dedication and never-say-die approach continue. There are a new crop of young players about to take control of the Proteas under the leadership of AB de Villiers. This is an exciting time for the national team.

If this period doesn’t end up in World Cup success it will be a major surprise. Let’s enjoy the ride. It is going to be spectacular.

Source: SuperSport – April 25, 2012 / KEPLER WESSELS