South Africa in England 2012 July 16, 2012

From breakdowns to brainwashing

ESPNcricinfo staff

In 2007, AB de Villiers was told by the then South Africa coach Mickey Arthur that he was in the last chance saloon. A poor run of form had left him with one last chance to save his place in the side and possibly his international career.

In the latest edition of Alison's Tea Break, de Villiers, now South Africa's one-day captain, Test vice-captain, and one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world, talks in detail about his batting ethos and describes how he came through what he calls his "breakdown" in 2006/7 when he was on the cusp of losing his place in the side.

He explains how he forced himself into a positive frame of mind - "brainwashing" himself, as he puts it - before hitting a century against the West Indies and following it up with an unbeaten double hundred against India in Ahmedabad.

Five years later he is enjoying a leadership role within the South Africa team; a role which, he believes, is partly responsible for the way he has developed an astonishing repertoire of batting strokes.

He talks Alison through his jaw-dropping assault on South Africa team mate Dale Steyn in the IPL earlier this year, and determines that while Test cricket is about playing the ball, T20 is about anticipating. The way de Villiers was able to read the game that night resulted in a blistering 47 off 17 balls, including 23 off one Steyn over, to turn the match for Bangalore Royal Challengers. Find out in this interview how he feels about having been No. 1 in the Test batting rankings, to what extent he believes talent is innate, and just how he achieves the right frame of mind to take on the world's best bowlers time and time again.