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AB The Autobiography By AB de Villiers

Release date: 12th September, 2016
Publisher: Macmillan

List Price: 18.99
Our Price: 12.91
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It’s reasonable to suggest that AB de Villiers is currently the world’s finest all-round batsman. He made his test debut for South Africa at the age of twenty and was selected for every single test his nation played over the subsequent eleven years, but he is renowned too as a ferocious T20 and ODI player. What is evident from this fine autobiography is that AB has stayed at the very top for such a long time because he takes nothing for granted.

The book opens with him waiting to bat in a one-dayer against the West Indies in Johannesburg in 2015, so nervous (despite this being his 117th ODI), that he proclaims to no-one in particular that someone else should bat ahead of him. South Africa are cruising, they’re 1-0 up in a five-match series, but the nerves still get to him. His request is refused, whereupon South Africa lose a wicket and, stumbling down the stairs to the accompanying laughter of his teammates, de Villers heads out to bat.

Once he arrives in the middle, the nerves evaporate. He appreciates how lucky he is to be earning a living by playing cricket for his country. He gets off the mark with an ill-timed stroke and rapidly moves to 28 from eight balls; he passes fifty after 16 balls and reaches 100 in an astonishing 31 balls, a new ODI world record. In just 44 balls, he would score 149 runs.

So many top-flight sportsmen and women create an arrogant persona as a means of complementing their confidence, of getting ‘in the zone’, of blanking everything from their minds to focus on the task in hand.

Yet de Villiers can, and does, concentrate on his job while being a genuinely modest human being. Much of this has to do with his upbringing and the honour code he and his schoolmates had to follow.

These pages are full of praise for opponents and examples of de Villiers, a cricketing superstar, eager to contribute as a team player, mindful of the enormous privilege he enjoys of representing his country at a game he loves. It’s an uplifting story of a modest man so many arrogant sports stars would, no doubt, secretly love to emulate.


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