De Villiers' autobiography draws huge response in India

AB de Villiers autobiography, 'AB: The Autobiography' has drawn huge response in India ahead of its launch in the country.

AB de Villiers, who plays for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, is a crowd favourite in India.   -  K. Murali Kumar

South Africa cricket team captain AB de Villiers is humbled by India's response to his autobiography, ' AB: The Autobiography', which was launched in Johannesburg yesterday.

De Villiers, who plays for the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), is very popular in India.

“We always knew that AB’s autobiography and the reception to it in South Africa would be overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, but we weren’t however prepared for the response from the sub-continent,” said Terry Morris, the managing director of publishers Pan McMillan.

He said the book rose to number 35 on the Amazon India charts last week based on pre-publication orders. "No sooner had AB tweeted almost a year ago about the cover shoot and the Pan McMillan South Africa twitter handle was trending in India."

“It was probably the most humbling experience of my life walking out there in the final ODI against India at Wankhede Stadium (in 2015),” De Villiers said, during the launch in Johannesburg.

“I walked out there to bat and the entire crowd was cheering ‘AB! AB!’ and chanting so loud that I could not even hear myself talk.

“It was happening in the whole series, but then it hit me really hard that I was very far away from home and here the people were supporting me like I was their own, yet I was playing against their own."

Former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes, who works with the Mumbain Indians in IPL, wrote in the foreword of the book: “I had heard an Indian crowd chant before, but not like this. It was freaky.”

In a chapter titled ‘Inspired by India’, de Villiers wrote that “this great country has provided me with so many opportunities and has become so important in my career.”

He wrote that IPL has changed international rivals into friends and that he was “embarrassed” with the price Vijay Mallya paid for him to play in RCB in 2011.

“A few well-timed performances...may have increased my value, but whatever the reason, I was surprised and, frankly, a little embarrassed when the list of annual player salaries was published after the auction and USD 1.1 million appeared beside my name,” de Villiers wrote.

“The IPL will surely continue to grow and develop, leading the evolution of the game in many respects, and I hope to participate for a few more years...not least because, taking into account the size of the crowds, the noise and the atmosphere, the most inspiring place to play cricket is India,” de Villiers wrote in the concluding chapter of his book.