A dressing down from Mickey Arthur and Graeme Smith back in 2008 was the turning point in the career of AB de Villiers, says Jacques Kallis.
South Africa’s ODI captain has taken the cricketing world by storm in the last month, shattering batting records and becoming the fastest man to score a fifty, hundred and hundred and fifty in the 50-over format.
Kallis, writing for www.cricket.com.au, has revealed that De Villiers’ career-path took a positive turn after the first test match against England at Lord’s in 2008 after he lost his wicket with a loose shot to be caught at mid-wicket.
According to Kallis, De Villiers could do things as a 21-year-old that no-one else could do.
‘The only issue was to help him learn about the ‘when and where.’ He was capable of everything; he just didn’t always understand what was required in a particular situation, said Kallis.
‘There was a turning point in 2008 when he was dismissed softly against England in the Lord’s Test match, chipping a catch to mid-on. Graeme Smith and Mickey Arthur spoke frankly – and without any soft edges. They said the time had come to deliver, to deliver on his talent.
‘He made 174 in the next Test match at Headingley. It set up our series win, but more importantly, he learned how to manage his talent. Some people may just be waking up to his genius now, but it has been there, on display, for many years.’
Kallis said the 169 De Villiers scored against Australia in Perth three years ago was one of the best innings he had ever seen.
‘The last 70 or so runs came at the same pace we’ve seen in ODI cricket recently. For as long as I have known him, it was never about him. He was always confident, believed he could do anything, but it was never about him ahead of the team. He truly understood that principle, unlike many other young geniuses.
‘If he believed he could score 120 from 80 balls in a Test match, or ODI, it was because he thought he could win the game, not because he wanted to show off.’
De Villiers also impressed when he scraped his way to 32 from 230 balls against Australia in a test-match in Adelaide which Kallis says was as much of an achievement as his blistering batting records of late.
‘It not only shows his variety of skills, but also his mental strength. When someone said: ‘You can’t block every ball. Play your natural game’ his instinct was to say: ‘Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do.’
De Villiers’ test stats before and after the Lord’s match
|Up to Lord’s 2008||41||2613||39.59||5|
|After Lord’s 2008||57||4993||62.41||16|
De Villiers’ ODI stats before and after the Lord’s test
|Up to Lord’s 2008||67||2147||37.66||3|
|After Lord’s 2008||115||5529||62.82||17|