Indian Test Captain Virat Kohli has described AB de Villiers as “the finest batsman of his generation.” Sir Vivian Richards told him, “You are changing the game…you are taking cricket to a new level. Keep going.”
It seems nothing is impossible when De Villiers is on the cricket field. This South African belongs to a rare descent of a batsman with 50-plus average in both Tests and One-Day Internationals.
In an email interview with Times of India, De Villiers talked about his recently launched autobiography ‘AB’, where he maps in detail the highs and lows of being a professional cricketer.
Majority of cricketers write their autobiography after retirement. What prompted you to undertake this venture at this juncture?
After the 2015 World Cup, I felt there was a story worth telling, and that it would be possible to write a story that interests and hopefully inspires people.
As a kid, you played a lot of games seriously – hockey, golf, tennis, swimming, and rugby among others. Why did you choose cricket as your career choice? And if not cricket, which other sport you would have chosen as a career?
I enjoyed tennis and rugby but, from the age of 15, cricket was always going to be No.1 for me. It is a game of incredible variety. I have always loved it.
Which match or innings proved to be the turning point in your career and how?
The second Test against India in Ahmedabad in 2008 was a turning point. It wasn’t just the score of 217 not out; it was the fact that, strange as it seems, for almost the first time, I felt able to defend properly and play a long innings for the team.
You describe Virender Sehwag’s 319 in Chennai in 2008 as “perhaps the best Test innings I have ever seen”…
It was just magnificent. Paul Harris, our left-arm spinner, was bowling outside leg stump, into the rough, to try and slow the game down. But Viru kept stepping away to leg and hitting him inside out through the covers for four.
You don’t do that in Test cricket, but Viru did.
In the chapter ‘Inspired by India’, you write, “History books will record that it was the BCCI that got the job done and in 2008 created the tournament (IPL) that transformed the game.” What was your reaction on hearing that you had been signed by Delhi for $300,000 in first edition?
I could not believe it. The BCCI, and the IPL, have taken cricket to a new level. Many players all around the world will always be grateful.
Now as someone who plays alongside Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle for Royal Challengers Bangalore, tell us a little more about them.
Virat and Chris are great players who have become great friends, and it’s been a great experience to play alongside them. Many people may be surprised that we get along so well, and there is absolutely no rivalry between us. We all pull for the team.
You wrote, ‘Our failure to win the 2015 World Cup ranks as the greatest disappointment of my cricket career.’ The reasons?
We just fell short on the day of the semifinal against New Zealand in Auckland. We played well, but we let some catches fall. That’s the game.
You write how you proposed to your girlfriend Danielle before the Taj Mahal. You even video graphed the moment surreptitiously. Could you please recount in some detail how it all happened?
It was a great moment in our lives, and it’s all in the book.
During your stay through all the editions of IPL, did you get to watch Bollywood movies too? If yes, any movie you especially enjoyed and why?
I enjoy every movie with Shah Rukh Khan, and would love to feature in one some time.