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AB de Villiers: The schmaltzy superhuman

Aadya Sharma
2.08K   //    17 Feb 2018, 20:37 IST


'Take that cap off, you're not worthy of wearing the cap'.

A certain Gerrit Deist's words rang through an 11-year-old Abraham's head, already smarting after having dropped a catch while playing backyard cricket in Warmbaths.

The boy started to well up, tears eventually streamed down his cheeks, as he saw his prized possession, a proud 'Jonty Rhodes' cap, being thrown around in the mud by his irate senior teammate, a 22-year-old friend of his brother.

It was 1995.

Exactly two decades later, Abraham shed tears yet again on a cricket pitch. The words must have rung through his head again, but he wasn't entirely to blame. He tightly clutched the cap he had been wearing all along and buried it in his hands as his biggest dream vaporized into thin air.

Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is cricket's most enchanting enigma. He's brazen and boisterous when he is in the centre of a ground, but equally self-effacing and astonishingly soft-spoken away from it. You just can't figure him out.

For the most part, de Villiers has been unable to completely figure himself out. He's armed with the arsenal, he knows how to tinker with it, but sometimes, his mind starts playing over his instincts, and on occasions that are too crucial to be tampered with, his thoughts waltz with his talent. The mix is just too heady for his own good.

He's Superman, with a heart that bobbles like any other human.

And his biggest superpower is his idiosyncratic batting style.

The word kaleidoscope derives itself from two Greek words: 'kalos' and 'eidos'; they combine together to mean 'examination of beautiful forms'.

De Villiers' batting, in many ways, is kaleidoscopic. You twirl it, bit by bit, at different angles, and out comes a beautiful design, a stroke of genius, through every gradient of a perfect 360. You can't get bored of a kaleidoscope; you can watch it all day.

He has been blessed with mesmeric talent, an almost psychic kick of figuring out where the cork will exactly land on the surface, and contorting himself in ways only he knows, to get in prime position and knock the living daylights out of the delivery.

He can scythe a yorker through the covers, swoop down on one knee and scoop, sweep, swivel-pull, glance and paddle anything that falls in his radar, the radar being the breadth of the pitch.

But that's just part - A to AB. There's also part - B. It's dogged, it's saner. It's obdurate, but it's never drab.

He's got all the strokes in your neighbourhood cricket manual, but he doesn't wish to use them on most occasions. Unless the side requires him to shed his colourful drapes, and become monochromatic.

The gun-blazing tank suddenly becomes stone cold, calmly enduring the very deliveries that would be deposited to the ends of the stadium. He can play for days if he wants to, nudging at the red cherry like mortals.

And then there's the fielding; the sprightly, almost childish craze to grab an incoming ball any which way, leaping in gay abandon, never caring about his troublesome back, exhausting every drop of the fuel he runs on, harder and harder, each time.

Enter captio

The world will speak about the 'Fab Four', the current gems of world batting, their immaculate technique, and their unparalleled number-churning efficiency. It all seems robotic; even their success seems repetitive and somewhat predictable.

But there never has been someone like AB de Villiers, the sentimental superhuman, the magician with infinite manoeuvres.

The cap will sit firmly on his head for years. He deserves it, and the world knows.

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