When it is the question of the heart, even the mightiest crumble. A superstar on the cricket field, AB de Villiers has tamed the best of bowling attacks to submission. Yet, it makes for a captivating read as to how the 32-year old got stumped in the “match” of his life.
In his autobiography, he gives a heartfelt account of what transpired when AB de Villiers decided to cheekily propose to his would-be wife, Danielle, at the Taj Mahal.
He first met Danielle at the foot of the Waterberg Mountains, accompanying his mother, a real estate agent, to a game lodge for lunch. After their meal, he was introduced to the owner, John Swart, who wanted them to meet his wife, and daughter Danielle.
De Villiers admits he was smitten by her in the first encounter itself. ‘It was the eyes, the beautiful eyes. The long hair was striking, but it was the eyes that instantly caught my attention. I said hello, she said hello and, amid the family greeting, that was that’, describes De Villiers.
Then 23, and already an international player, De Villiers asked his mother on the drive back whether he could get the contact number of the girl. He then texted ‘the girl with the beautiful eyes’, inviting her for a gathering with his friends.
He concedes that there didn’t seem to be much progress thereafter, even as years passed on. Danielle continued to pursue her studies and De Villiers continued to grow from strength to strength as a sportsperson.
It was on the occasion of his brother Wessels’s marriage that their love re-ignited. Listening in awe to Danielle’s rendition of his favourite song, De Villiers fell for her beautiful voice. With Danielle moving to Cape Town, they started seeing each other regularly thereafter.
In early 2012, De Villiers had made up his mind that he wanted to marry Danielle. Before leaving for a tour to New Zealand, he arranged to meet with her parents and asked for her hand. They turned out to be really supportive, even helping him find a ring for Danielle before the start of the IPL that year.
It was during the IPL that De Villiers elaborately planned a pleasant surprise for Danielle. He chose Taj Mahal as the venue for the all-important question, ‘the ideal place to get engaged’, as De Villiers wrote.
He arranged a trip to the marble mausoleum during one of the match breaks, asking Jim Rydell and Kalveer Biradar to travel with them. Both were part of the RCB setup and were accompanying the couple to record the series of events that De Villiers had so painstakingly planned, oblivious to his would-be wife.
After a 212 km drive from Delhi to Agra, the group reached the monument at the stroke of evening. De Villiers beautifully describes how ‘Danielle looked fantastic’ in a simple white dress. Jim and Kalveer were stationed behind trees, ready to capture the moment.
It was then that AB decided to take the plunge, he sat down on one knee, ‘his heart pounding’.
He started reciting a prepared speech, explaining what she meant to him, ending it with a simple question: ‘You’re the one I want to live with forever. Danielle, will you marry me?’
Out he took the ring and presented to her. She hugged him and started crying. As he clung on to her, he started having doubts. With no response from Danielle, who, according to the star batsman, was a strong-minded woman, De Villiers thought his worst fears had come true.
As he became more and more anxious, he thought maybe Danielle would shoot down his question, responding with ‘Sorry, bud, that was a nice presentation but this is not going to happen. Would you mind if we go back to Bangalore?’
As he became a bit more uncomfortable, he squeaked out, ‘Listen, are you going to give me an answer?’
She looked up and responded in the affirmative. They got married the very next year, at the same spot where they first met.