The one and only AB

Sportsmen such as AB De Villiers are pure entertainers who leave their fans yearning for more. What will sport be without such thoroughbreds?

There are some moments on a field of play that remain etched in the memory but there are some sportsmen who make you ponder repeatedly as to how and what makes them so consistently different from others. For example the acrobatic catch from Chris Lynn to dismiss AB de Villiers will be remembered for a long time as that particular effort may perhaps never be repeated. But if a sportsman keeps doing extraordinary things on a regular basis, then the thought process start whirring in a human mind. What makes him so consistent? How does he do it so effortlessly? Why can’t the others do it? Well, there will be a select few in every generation who perform difficult deeds with ease and with grace as well. How can one forget Sir Viv Richards move stealthily at the last moment to hit inside out or whip the ball on to the onside against the best of bowlers? It was better for others not to try to emulate Richards’ way of batting for the great man’s co-ordination and self-confidence were unique. Co-ordination is perhaps the key attribute that is required for cricketing excellence.

One of the current day cricketers who possesses that in abundance is AB de Villiers, the South African batsman/wicket keeper/fielder. Such is his all-round ability that one finds it difficult to say with conviction what his core speciality is. Let’s stick to AB the batsman for the moment. He bats in different positions in different formats for different teams but he plays the key role in every unit. We saw him bat sedately against the Indians to earn a draw for South Africa when they were in a tight spot. For those who are used to his avatar in the shorter formats of the game, he might have been a disappointment but his extremely strong mind enables him to adapt to the demands of Test cricket. We are all aware of many fantastic performers in the shorter format struggling in Test cricket but AB is an exception. He is unique because unlike other extraordinary performers in all formats who had a fixed position, AB plays the role of a floater in the shorter formats and smashes the best of bowlers all over the park. His strike rate is more than healthy but what is more impressive is his success rate as a game changer.

The way he make his adjustments at the last moment to pick the areas to cart the ball leaves the best of bowlers disconcerted. It has hardly mattered whether a bowler is pacy or crafty for AB has the rare ability to carve the ball through the off side even though he sets himself to hoist on the leg side. It is said that a mind registers only one thought and commands the body to execute that idea but AB has proved such theories remain what they are — theories. His knock against the Royals was sizzling in that his wagon wheel was not limited to one half of the field. For all the value he adds to the team, he remains very much a team-man to the core in performing the role he is given by the team management. A captain can ask AB to fit into any role confidently and the response will be in the affirmative as AB is not only flexible in his approach, he is also exceptionally strong mentally.

It is a surprise that he has not turned his arm over but there again he rather prefers to save a few runs and pluck the ball out of thin air as a fielder. He is ubiquitous on the field and very rarely does he fail to inspire his team. Sportsmen such as AB de Villiers are pure entertainers who leave their fans yearning for more. What will sport be without such thoroughbreds?