Tuesday, May 23, 2017

AB - AB De Villiers

In the series of biographies and autobiographies I read recently, AB turned up at Rajesh's home in Bangalore. The book starts with AB picking up a key moment in his life, when a brother's friend, much older to him, picks on him for misfielding and throws his cap down and tells him he does not deserve to wear that. All of eight or so, AB decides (or has already decided to be a fighter - not a star but a fighter). Young AB makes the older boys pay by fighting on and on, and not getting out despite all their efforts. That incident signifies what AB is like.
Pan Macmillan, Rs. 599. 322 p
The maverick batsman and fielder who seems divinely gifted is perhaps so - he is a Catholic who believes that he is doing god's work in this world and is merely the medium. He also quickly shares another incident when in the journey to his heights as an international cricketer he has an epiphany to remain humble. That's something AB imbibes and remains humble to this day.

AB recounts his early days at his home with his two older brothers, mother and father. He was privy to good schooling, to elite schools, rugby, football, hockey, swimming, tennis, cricket etc. Young AB wa s a tough competitor and played both football and tennis apart from cricket. The final call was between cricket and tennis and he chose cricket. Was there an incident of him getting hit on the head as well - I think so - maybe a concussion? Anyway he quickly dispels all those stories about him being the young scientist, hockey, swimming, badminton, golf etc and says they are not true.

Somewhere early on while playing tennis he is taught the discipline that is required to make a champion.
- Hit 1000 balls a day
- Prepare correctly for every practice session and match
- Routines for kit, equipment, water, nutrition
- Write brief notes for yourself about the game pan, read it
Surely anyone who does all that will be a champion. Ask Andre Agassi.

His mother was a sportswoman and a stickler for discipline and AB was taught to respect the opponent and the equipment. He writes about his school, growing into the junior team, playing for South Africa A team and visiting India (Lucknow). He recounts his friends Dale Steyn, Morne and Albie Morkel and the rise to the senior side.

Much of his cricket he played, he admired Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher. He talks of how his career took a turn for the better when he met his friend and later his manager who taught him the value of REPS. R - Recognise the line between success and failure, E - Enhance key relationships, P - Prepare for life after cricket and S - Stay close to the cross. He takes AB into a dark stadium and helps him visualise the high road - what he can give to the audiences by playing to his potential. the joy, the excitement. AB realises that and aims higher and his stats show a huge difference after that.

In his talk about South Africa and Protea fire, AB recounts meeting Madiba. AB is a songwriter and a singer, loves his music and quotes so many songs in his autobiography that you know how special it is to him. One song he mentions is of Johnny Clegg and Mandela - Asimbonanga..

I remember listening to Johnny Clegg, who was introduced to me by Chhaya, Shobha's cousin, back in 1992. Superb stuff.

AB recounts meeting Jeffrey Archer, who sends him his books every time he writes one. He writes about the IPL, the money, parties. I can never forget the way he took on Dale Steyn in one of the most savage attacks I ever saw on the cricket field in an IPL - and AB describes it ball by ball. But his description does not do any justice to what he actually did - truth be told AB's humility comes in the way of making his biography as exciting as his batting. He writes about how badly they wanted to shed the tag of chokers and how the Proteas still hurt at their inability to bag any major championship. I liked the little green book concept he starts where the book is given to one member of the team every day and he writes something about the game, about others, about himself - with specific rules to write stuff that help the team.

And then he writes about his love and now his wife Daniella and how can music be far behind when he speaks of love. So he brings up David Gray and his 'This Year's Love' and Elvis Blue's 'Lighthouse'.

Fittingly I like his belief about how the team is not 11 but 30, including the support staff. And he ends with a Virat quote - I will play forever - says Virat. AB obviously has other plans. 

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