It is common knowledge that South African cricketer AB de Villiers is a phenomenon on his own. I don’t think any cricketer is loved as unconditionally across nations as he is. His humility, his humanity, his understated swashbuckling nature, and his devotion to the sport and his family are what defines him. And to read his story in his own words – sometimes heartwarmingly humorous – in AB de Villiers – The Autobiography, was something of an emotional journey for me as a quiet admirer.
AB de Villiers starts his journey from his parents’ house at 20 Mentz Avenue in Bela Bela, South Africa where he played with his older brothers and their friends. AB’s story shows how his family, consisting of his parents Millie and Abraham, and older brothers Jan and Wessels, played an important part in encouraging his love for sports, bringing him to where he is today.
(Thank you, the de Villiers clan! The world is so much better knowing the youngest de Villiers brother!)
There are stories of how AB de Villiers dominated a number of sports on an international level. But though he did play tennis and rugby on a national level, he refutes the “international success” claims and tells it like it is, turning all of them on their head. This doubles the respect I have for him, for telling his side of the story, even if it meant that there was a slight chance of people thinking, “Oh, so he didn’t! What a waste of our affections!”
There are a number of reasons why AB de Villiers is respected across all cricketing nations.
- AB respects the opposition.
- AB upholds the spirit of the game in every way possible.
- AB is a true blue entertainer through and through.
- AB puts his heart and soul into the game.
- AB isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes. He knows that admitting them gives him a chance to correct them in the future.
- AB knows how to have fun.
AB de Villiers admits that he is inspired by a lot of people and places. But as an Indian, for me, the chapter that warmed my heart the most was one that he titled, “Inspired by India”. If South Africa is playing in India or if the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are playing a match in the Indian Premier League (IPL), you know that when number 17 comes out, there’s going to be unanimous chanting of “AB! AB! AB!” and more! This chapter shows how much this has overwhelmed and affected him and how much in love with India he is.
AB has also commented on his inspirations, betting and racial allegations in South African cricket and world cricket in general, and a number of other things. He has made every cricket fan familiar with his story, right from 20 Mentz Avenue to playing tennis to playing rugby to playing cricket and now ruling the hearts of millions across the world, though he is too modest to admit to the last part.
In addition to these, there is one chapter called “The Match That Matters” that is exceptionally sweet. This chapter outlines his journey with his wife, the lucky one, Danielle: the first time he saw her, how they fell in love, how he proposed, and their blissful marital life henceforth. This chapter shows that he is as full of love, admiration, and loyalty for his wife as he is devoted to his game. As it should be.
AB de Villiers is an amazing cricketer but he is also a singer and even plays the guitar. He talks about his singing venture with South African singing sensation Ampie du Preez in the book and my awe of this man went up a few notches higher.
The reason I picked up this book (Kindle e-book version) was because of my love for AB de Villiers, but after reading it, I know that knowing AB’s journey makes me admire him so much more than I could ever have expected!