Everyone calls AB (A. B. de Villiers) a 360 degree cricketer. There’s no such shot that he cannot play. Even to watch him batting in the nets was such a memorable experience. Everyone used to be excited to see how he’ll play the next ball. We keep wondering how he improvises so much in a match and attempts all these strokes around the field so sweetly!
All of us prefer to perfect a new shot in the nets before thinking about attempting it in a match. AB’s style is exactly the reverse. He would play only straight down the wicket while batting in the nets back then. I never saw him playing an unconventional shot in the nets, he would hit in the ‘V’ or pull or cut it according to the merit of the ball.
Once I dared to ask him about playing those strokes. I was actually a little scared to ask him since he executes these shots day in and day out but still I approached him once. And he said it’s all about confidence. He stressed on the need for self-belief and backing yourself.
Superman: A. B. de Villiers has an array of shots. – Sportzpics / BCCI
That to me underlined the need to believing in yourself being a key to success. He insisted on observing how many of the unusual shots attempted were actually connected confidently and carry the same confidence in a game. He also told me back myself with the same confidence in a match and not hesitate at the crease.
I recall another incident vividly. When we played against Chennai Super Kings in Bengaluru, I missed Dhoni’s stumping and he finished the game off in the last two-three overs. Obviously when you miss a stumping chance of a player of Dhoni’s stature, nobody walks up to you and speaks anything.
My mood was naturally off, I was blaming myself for the loss. The dressing room was quiet, there was no chatter. I used to sit next to AB. Everyone was dining and planning to board the bus. Only AB came up and told me to take it as a learning rather than being bogged down by it.
He told me to take it in my stride, take it as a lesson and move on. That made be believe that cricket isn’t over here and I should be ready to grab the next opportunity.
(Yogesh Takawale was a part of the Mumbai Indians from 2008 to 2010 and Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014. He played 16 matches as wicket-keeper-batsman and is one of the very few to have opened with Sanath Jayasuriya and Chrish Gayle and played under Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli’s captaincy)
As told to Amol Karhadkar