Over the fence

AB de Vil­liers’ tell-all au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is a well-bal­anced tale of the crick­eter’s life on and off the field

The Financial Express - - WORDS WORTH - Ishaan Gera

WHILE CRICKET may not be the world’s most played sport—for those con­fused, it’s foot­ball—it’s cer­tainly treated as re­li­gion in coun­tries it’s played in. More­over, crick­eters are revered like movie stars and, with the sport turn­ing into a fes­ti­val with the com­ing of Twenty20 cricket—es­pe­cially the Indian Pre­mier League (IPL)—crick­eters, ir­re­spec­tive of their na­tion­al­ity, have be­come demigods.

If the older gen­er­a­tion idolised leg­ends such as Don Brad­man, Su­nil Gavaskar, Den­nis Lillee and Curtly Am­brose, there is no dearth of icons for the new gen­er­a­tion as well. One of them is South African crick­eter AB de Vil­liers, who is fondly called AB or ABD by fans.

Though AB might not have as many records to his name as, say, Sachin Ten­dulkar or Brian Lara, he is still con­sid­ered one of the great­est to play the gen­tle­man’s game. In fact, there are quite a few ‘myths’ sur­round­ing his sport­ing prow­ess and men­tal acu­ity, mak­ing him out to be a su­per­hu­man. The best chap­ter in his tell-all au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is one where he dis­pels these myths in a ‘true or false’ fash­ion. “De­cent at golf, use­ful at rugby and ten­nis when I was young, and en­joy­ing cricket ever since. The er­rors will doubtlessly re­main on the In­ter­net and peo­ple will con­tinue to be­lieve that I was some kind of prodigy at all those dif­fer­ent sports, but the truth will hope­fully some­how en­dure,” he says.

Un­like other au­to­bi­ogra­phies or bi­ogra­phies that tend to por­tray sports per­son­al­i­ties as peo­ple with rock-solid con­fi­dence and con­cen­tra­tion, the book starts with AB de­scrib­ing his ner­vous­ness dur­ing a 2015 One-Day match against West Indies in Johannesburg. He ended up set­ting a record in that match, scor­ing a half­cen­tury in 16 balls and a cen­tury in 44.

AB also sheds light on his child­hood as the youngest of three broth­ers grow­ing up in Warm­baths in South Africa. He cat­e­gor­i­cally goes through each year of his life, start­ing from when he was 10 years old un­til he was se­lected at the age of 22 years. In all, the au­to­bi­og­ra­phy presents a well-bal­anced tale of his con­ver­sa­tions with other crick­eters, prac­tice ses­sion lessons and life on and off the field.

In­dia also finds a place in AB’s mem­oir, with the bats­man de­vot­ing a whole chap­ter to the na­tion, he says, he is in­spired by. In an hon­est and open fash­ion, AB de­scribes his time at the IPL, which, he be­lieves, is a great con­trib­u­tor to the game and will only grow in the com­ing years.

In­ter­est­ingly, while he does give in­stances of some of his matches and the emo­tions he went through, never once does he go over his tally of records. More im­por­tantly, he pro­vides a glimpse into the on-field jour­neys of his mates from South Africa, as well as the T20 teams he has been part of.

While the book may not ap­peal to those look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion from this great bats­man, it’s a good read for cricket en­thu­si­asts or those look­ing to make a ca­reer in the game. For fol­low­ers of the bats­man who has scored over 40,000 runs and has not been dropped for a sin­gle Test match since he started play­ing, AB might not emerge as the su­per­hu­man the In­ter­net por­trays him to be, but rather as an hon­est and hum­ble man. A gen­tle­man play­ing the gen­tle­man’s game.

There are quite a few ‘myths’ sur­round­ing AB’s sport­ing prow­ess and men­tal acu­ity, mak­ing him out to be a su­per­hu­man. The best chap­ter in his tell-all au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is one where he dis­pels these myths in a ‘true or false’ fash­ion

ABDEVILLIERS: THE AU­TO­BI­OG­RA­PHY ABdeVilliers PanMacmil­lan Pp288 R599

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