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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 18, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    The SA top 6 is among the best n world cricket. They all have good averages bar Duminy and Rudolph. Rudolph has just returned to test cricket and Duminy has been a bit part player in the Test side. Kallis, Smith, Amla, AB are all quality with good Test Averages, better than England's batting line up. England have a good bowling attack which I wont write off, at all. I think England have a better bowling attack than SA.

  • Peter on July 17, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    Not sure it's worth jeopardising his vital batting contribution by weighing him down with the onerous wkt keeping duties in the Tests. Surely SA have plenty of keepers of the right calibre just behind Boucher? If not, there must be something very wrong with domestic cricket in RSA. ENG could probably find half a dozen of the right standard if Prior had a serious injury.

  • M on July 17, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    I say England are odds on to win the series because of home advantage and their recent history....but it should be a good contest in all departments... we might see some special acts from both sides...after all it is battle to be number one

  • M on July 17, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    @Anil Oli.... sorry my friend your choices are heavily based / dependent on IPL... therefore your list doesn't make sense at international level

  • M on July 17, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    @ jonesy2 .... I don't wanna hurt anyones feeling but M.Clark is one of the most rubbish cricketer I have ever seen in Aussie Team....I insist on Rubbish Cricketer.... even Taibu will produce better cricket and results with current Aussie team. no disgrace to Taibu by the way....

  • Anthony on July 17, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    But the big question was missed out - why did his parents name him after Allan Border?

  • Sharon on July 17, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    @SCC08 - @Lmaotsetung is hardcore England fan. de Villiers is good - but let see how he get on against the best bowler unit in the world in perfect bowling condition in England Test match pressure situation.... Everyone is dribbling over South Africa batsmen - but England batsmen are at least as good.

  • A on July 17, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    Forgot to mention also, keeping wicket for 5 days over 3 tests will be a massive examination for ABDV and doesn;t he get back problems from time to time? It'll be very interesting indeed....

  • ras on July 17, 2012, 5:11 GMT

    No bastman in modern era is as dominating as AB ... he plays all situations and according to every situation. He is such great player who has converted his talent to play. Also Hashim amla is highly under rated. That man is second next to the best batter in the world along with Jacques kallis. Hope AB continues to flay attack. GO AB :)

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    Hilarious comment from RandyOZ! For me, this test series will determine if Smith still deserves a spot in the team...

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