December 23, 2010

Everybody loves Fanie

There was never a dull moment when he was around, biting the ears of umpires, red-carding spectators or giving away Jonty Rhodes shirts for booze
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Of all South African cricketers, I remember Fanie de Villiers best. He was a beautiful outswing bowler and bowled effective offcutters to mix them up. He got Sachin Tendulkar out a number of times in limited-overs cricket, caught at short midwicket, with the slightly slower offcutter, which became a template for bowlers for some time during the mid-nineties. Most of all, though, I remember how, during the Titan Cup in 1996, he would stick the old ball up his armpit and use the sweat from there to shine one side of it.

When I met him it was only natural that I asked him about that. Also, didn't the others find it disgusting? "They were wiping it on their arse," de Villiers shoots back. "No they didn't have any problem.

"Everybody sweats. Guys are doing that too [he rubs his forehead and then rubs the hand on an imaginary ball]. It's similar." And wait for this one. "Spit is worse than armpit." And he makes a mock guttural sound before pretend-spitting on his hand and rubbing it on the ball. "Khrrgghh."

Wherever he toured, the people loved de Villiers. He was always chatting to the crowds from the boundary, playing tricks with the umpires, and travelling on his own in foreign countries.

De Villiers once bit David Shepherd's ear to get an lbw call. "One of our rugby players [Johan Le Roux, in 1994] bit the ear of the New Zealand captain [Sean Fitzpatrick]," de Villiers remembers. "It was in the paper that day, and the same day I bit David Shepherd's ear because he didn't give me an lbw decision. And he was screaming and I was holding on and he was pulling. And the ear stretched out that far from his head. And the next day, the Sun paper said, this is an old South African problem. The picture was in the paper and David signed it for me. In a Test match." The crowd had a ball.

During that tour de Villiers went to his county, Yorkshire, for a Test. When he had first gone there, as a young Afrikaner who couldn't speak English, he learned a lot of tricks but had a tough time with the local dialect. "Difficult, but I communicated. I fought. I couldn't hear a flippin' note. They sounded pissed every time."

Back to Headingley in 1994 and this happened. "I was signing autographs, and I looked up and Allan Donald bowled the ball. The ball came my way and I ran and picked it up and someone's autograph book was in my one hand, and it was yellow and red, very shiny. It was the end of the over and I kept it in my pocket. I bowled my first ball, I bowled my second ball, and the third one was lbw - and not out. I kind of remembered I had this book with a yellow-and-red thing, and I pulled the book out and red-carded the umpire. And the Long Room behind me went boo. Old-school ties. The rest of the crowd loved it. So I went past him [Shepherd] and red-carded the long room."

Once in England a paper cup flew onto the ground, and he put the ball in the paper cup and bowled. Chaos. First ball of the game.

"I bit David Shepherd's ear because he didn't give me an lbw decision. He was screaming and I was holding on and he was pulling. And the ear stretched out that far from his head. And the next day, the Sun paper said, this is an old South African problem. The picture was in the paper and David signed it for me"

I want to know what makes such fun cricketers such fun. To my slight disappointment, I find out it was not all spontaneous.

"What you need to also realise [when we were readmitted], we were good ambassadors," de Villiers says. "At the age of 29, you have got a university-of-life degree. You can swing people easier than when you are young. When you are young, you are scared to do anything wrong. You are worried about the coach and the manager. You are worried about everything. But when you are older, you say the right thing at the right time in the right place.

"I had finished my studies, I had done my army training. The chances we took on the field to get the public on our side were very calculated. How many times did we have tea time in a Test and three or four of us stayed on the field and said to the security guys, 'Relax man' and got the kids on the field and gave catches to them. And then we would give them our caps. That's a clever way of getting the crowd on your side.

"I started the Mexican wave in Sri Lanka. Everybody went for tea and I stayed on the field. I said, 'Boys sit down.' Then I said, 'You guys stand up.' Then they went like that. Then I went to the next stand and said, 'Stand up.' Then they went a little bit and it stopped there. And I was like, 'What is flippin' wrong with you?' I kind of mobilised the people. And the crowd loved me. Because I tried to do something with them. What do the players do nowadays? They don't even look at the public."

It didn't stop on the field. De Villiers was known for his exploits off it too. "I always would get on a train, or get into a tuk-tuk and say to the tuk-tuk driver, 'Take me to your house.' That was in Kolkata. And he didn't know what to do. And he took me and I sat there with him, we had lunch and then started playing cricket out in the street.

"I got [Daryll] Cullinan on a train with me in Sri Lanka, and we got off it and started playing cricket with the kids."

Jonty Rhodes got picked on a lot. "We would steal Jonty Rhodes' shirts and swap them for beer from the breweries. For a Jonty Rhodes shirt they would give anything. We were like, 'We want a case of brandy, a case of whiskey and six cases of beer.' We had been doing it for three years when he found out about it. We did this around the world. Every Friday he would go, 'Chaps, I have lost another shirt. Please help me.'"

Perhaps de Villiers chose to have much more fun with his cricket than others because it came to him the hard way. He was an Afrikaner from the countryside who didn't know any English. "Language is a terrible barrier," he remembers. "It is a massive barrier. More than one can think. I learned English at school, but I could only understand and read and write. When I spoke English, I sounded stupid. As an Afrikaner, sitting there, checking everybody out - these English-speaking boys plus West Indians. It was tough."

Most of his playing days were during apartheid. Then, too, he almost lost his eyes in an accident with lime when he was a lieutenant in the army. "I was blind for six-seven days and layers burned off, and it slowly started coming back again. They literally tied me to a bed, held me upside down and threw water into my eyes. Probably for three hours, four hours. It was so sore, I couldn't close my eyes, I couldn't open my eyes. Unbelievable. It's amazing how you can go through that."

De Villiers went through it and more. When he was younger, he did his back in throwing a javelin. He had to get cuts on his back to fuse three vertebrae. That made his hamstrings stiff. That, along with the javelin-throwing, also perhaps explains his action.

"I wasn't the best athlete," he says. "Over 100 metres I think Ben Johnson would have beaten me by 20 metres. What I did right was, I used to run in hard and create pace through muscles. I didn't get it as easy as others. That made me appreciate it more than the guys [who were] getting it for nothing. But you are right, my action was all hands and… [ mocks his own action]."

De Villiers was one of the first Afrikaners to break the language barrier, as opposed to the "few who went to privileged schools". "I was a country boy."

After a long wait came readmission, when he was the best bowler in the country - only for Ezra Moseley, a West Indian professional at Northern Transvaal, to break de Villiers' toe with a low full-toss in the nets. No one from your country has played international cricket for 20 years, and when the chance comes, you injure yourself in the nets. Born on Friday the 13th was de Villiers.

However, the man who charmed the crowds the world over in his playing days isn't quite popular in his country now that he is an outspoken media person. He writes in the foreword of his book that he thinks he is considered "negative, jealous and miserable". Some go so far to call him insensitive regarding race issues. It will take a lot more understanding of South Africa and its cricket before I can make my mind up on that. Until then I will know him as a cricketer who went through a lot in his life but never forgot his prime job was to entertain the people who paid good money to come to the grounds.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • taufque_atique on December 26, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    nice article..one of the best in cricinfo..want more like this

  • CricEshwar on December 24, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    I heard he lost a couple of fingers while working with a grass cutter and thats how he went out of the game. Is that true?

  • Wd-X on December 24, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    Very nicely written, Mr.Monga! Hope you come up with more such gems

  • SumitAgarwal0804 on December 24, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    At one point he was called the fastest spinner in the world. I remember him bowling slow cutters continously ball after ball.He used to deceive the batsman with these cutters and always kept them thinking.....It was good fun to go thorugh the article Cheers...for putting it up

  • on December 24, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Ah yes Fanie de Villiers..........what a great bowler............ I remember him well

  • Philsy on December 24, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Great article, Fanie was a legend, he was a person of spirit. I remember when South Africa won in Sydney in 1994, I think it was, Fanie had a remote controlled car zooming around the ground inbetween deliveries and at drinks time. He was one of the true characters. I think it was good for a bloke like Fanie to be around at the time he was, his attitude was a healthy metaphor for post-apartheid South Africa. I think Ewen Chatfield, Andy Flintoff, and Monty Panesar fit into the same mould, laconic and irreverent characters. They're good competitors, but help put the whole business of sport in perspective by humanizing it. About time someone mentioned Fanie, as a good antidote to the boorish "competitiveness", verbal abuse disguised as a skill, and corruption that hangs over, well, any sport when people adopt a win at all costs mentality. Fanie showed it was possible to be thoroughly professional without lowering the tone.

  • anver777 on December 24, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    I guess Fanie de Villiers seems to be a very very simple character in his life......by the way is he related to another sporty character AB de Villiers ?????

  • vanhunks on December 24, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    @SurlyCynic: I had a good laugh too mate. I am a Afrikaner in the same sense as De Villiers - meaning from mainly Dutch/Boer decent. But yes, both Ntini and De Villiers were/are great ambassadors of the game.

    I remember De Villiers doing a bicycle tour over South Africa to raise funds for the hearing impaired. This was probably 12 years ago if I remember correctly.

  • on December 24, 2010, 0:44 GMT

    Fanie is Funny !! Biting Shep's ear ...haha ..couldn't stop laughing :D Believe or not, this is my first post to cricinfo...I cover most of the articles in cricinfo, after seeing this article I made my decision to thanks Monga.

    Cheers !!

  • SurlyCynic on December 23, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    M. David Wesley: Calling Makhaya Ntini an 'Afrikaner' is bizarre at the very least, if you understand anything about South Africa. Thanks for the laughs.

  • taufque_atique on December 26, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    nice article..one of the best in cricinfo..want more like this

  • CricEshwar on December 24, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    I heard he lost a couple of fingers while working with a grass cutter and thats how he went out of the game. Is that true?

  • Wd-X on December 24, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    Very nicely written, Mr.Monga! Hope you come up with more such gems

  • SumitAgarwal0804 on December 24, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    At one point he was called the fastest spinner in the world. I remember him bowling slow cutters continously ball after ball.He used to deceive the batsman with these cutters and always kept them thinking.....It was good fun to go thorugh the article Cheers...for putting it up

  • on December 24, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Ah yes Fanie de Villiers..........what a great bowler............ I remember him well

  • Philsy on December 24, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Great article, Fanie was a legend, he was a person of spirit. I remember when South Africa won in Sydney in 1994, I think it was, Fanie had a remote controlled car zooming around the ground inbetween deliveries and at drinks time. He was one of the true characters. I think it was good for a bloke like Fanie to be around at the time he was, his attitude was a healthy metaphor for post-apartheid South Africa. I think Ewen Chatfield, Andy Flintoff, and Monty Panesar fit into the same mould, laconic and irreverent characters. They're good competitors, but help put the whole business of sport in perspective by humanizing it. About time someone mentioned Fanie, as a good antidote to the boorish "competitiveness", verbal abuse disguised as a skill, and corruption that hangs over, well, any sport when people adopt a win at all costs mentality. Fanie showed it was possible to be thoroughly professional without lowering the tone.

  • anver777 on December 24, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    I guess Fanie de Villiers seems to be a very very simple character in his life......by the way is he related to another sporty character AB de Villiers ?????

  • vanhunks on December 24, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    @SurlyCynic: I had a good laugh too mate. I am a Afrikaner in the same sense as De Villiers - meaning from mainly Dutch/Boer decent. But yes, both Ntini and De Villiers were/are great ambassadors of the game.

    I remember De Villiers doing a bicycle tour over South Africa to raise funds for the hearing impaired. This was probably 12 years ago if I remember correctly.

  • on December 24, 2010, 0:44 GMT

    Fanie is Funny !! Biting Shep's ear ...haha ..couldn't stop laughing :D Believe or not, this is my first post to cricinfo...I cover most of the articles in cricinfo, after seeing this article I made my decision to thanks Monga.

    Cheers !!

  • SurlyCynic on December 23, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    M. David Wesley: Calling Makhaya Ntini an 'Afrikaner' is bizarre at the very least, if you understand anything about South Africa. Thanks for the laughs.

  • on December 23, 2010, 21:21 GMT

    Fanie is one of the best bowlers SA produced. I have seen him taking Sachin's wicket and I have hardly seen Sachin dominating Fanie's bowling. Excellent bowler of his time!

  • on December 23, 2010, 20:40 GMT

    "Fannie is the best boundary rider i have seen" - Rhodes

  • YoBro on December 23, 2010, 20:09 GMT

    I still remember a game in SA (can't recall if it was a Test or an ODI) when Fanie bowled and over full of perfect outswingers piching on middle-off at just the perfect length to Ajay Jadeja, beating him exactly the same way every single ball. After the 5th or 6th such ball, AJ simply walked up to Fanie and gave him his bat as if to say "That's it...I've had it...you can have my wicket". It was the best over I've seen in cricket.

  • on December 23, 2010, 19:36 GMT

    Surprised no one commented on the Fannie's monumental bowling in the 2nd test against Australia at Sydney in '94. On the start of play on day 5 ,the Aussies had dominated every session of the test and needed about 60-70 runs to win with 8 wickets in hand. Fannie simply would not give up and finished the innings with 6 wickets handing SA with a win by 5 runs. A very rare man who bowled with his head and his heart.

  • on December 23, 2010, 19:22 GMT

    That was an interesting analysis of a cricketer, quite a relief from the usual technical details of the game. These are the guys who enliven the cricket field. One immediately remembers Makhaya Ntini, another S. African fast bowler and also an Afrikaner, who always bonded with the crowd. Couple of years ago, when Sehwag was butchering the SA bowlers in Chennai on his way to his second triple hundred (319), Ntini never showed anxiety whenever he came to field at the boundary ropes. He was egging us on to scream more and more. We even put up a placard saying "Ntini, you are so nice". He folded his palms and bowed as if to accept our compliment.

    Also, in IPL 2, when Dhoni did not play him in many games, he was always seen having fun, playing pranks on team mates. It shows a lot of spirit. De Villiers and Ntini have a lot in common. They realize, as cricketers, the importance being happy and making people happy. They seem to have a different mission altogether on the cricket field.

  • nlambda on December 23, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    Never realized this guy was that good - 85 wickets in 18 tests are top-notch figures! And one-day stats are not bad either: 3.57 RPO and 1+ wkts/match. I like his easygoing fun-loving approach and that pic of bike riding (in Pak?) is great!!

  • on December 23, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    Nice article, a very under-rated bowler, never realised at the time that he was such a character. However I'm pretty certain he never played for Yorkshire! The only county team he played for was Kent in 1990.

  • SzlyAr on December 23, 2010, 15:39 GMT

    I like this article. De Villiers doesn't appear to be a bloke who would gel with people so easily because of his mean and aggressive looks but you can't judge a book from it's cover I guess.

  • on December 23, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    Before his accident with the lime Fanie was extremely quick. He was known as 'Vinnige Fanie', meaning Quick Fanie in Afrikaans. He formed a deadly combination with another Pretoria bowler called Tersius Bosch (who also played test cricket before allegedly being poisoned by his wife). It was against this duo that Hershelle Gibbs made his first class debut aged 16. I watched the game where Gibbs was hit maybe 10 times, but got a standing ovation for his 35-odd runs. Only later did Fanie become a swing/seam bowler. He was an out-and-out quick to start off with.

  • Guruprasad.S on December 23, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Every comment on this article is a positive one. Fanie DeVilliers was that popular a cricketer. A very skilled bowler, whose slower ones foxed a lot of Indian batsman. In the 1996 test b/w India and SA, Fanie's stubborn batting ensured that SA had a very modest fourth innings chase (although SA lost eventually). The picture of Fanie on the bicycle says a lot about the man: Unfussy, easy-going and fun-loving, but a tough one on the cricket field.

    Keep up such articles Mr.Monga; cricket fans are always happy to know a bit more about cricketers, especially about characters like Fanie.

  • Vindaliew on December 23, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    There's nothing wrong with calculated public relations with the kids and spectators to get them on your side - as long as you genuinely enjoy it, and it seems Fanie did. Unless you tolerate it and act through the motions to gain popularity, it doesn't reflect badly on you at all. After retirement he also spent a lot of time coaching the less fortunate in the rural areas of SA - Fanie had a big heart (although that David Shepherd incident was probably too much, and reflected better on Shepherd than Fanie himself).

    Sadly for him, the biggest memory I have of Fanie is his knocking Devon Malcolm's helmet off and triggering Malcolm's 9 for 57 against South Africa. :)

  • Shas3 on December 23, 2010, 14:58 GMT

    I still remember one of the games he played against India (probably in Titan Cup 1996, not sure though). He bowled six consecutive yorkers to Srinath, the ball landed right on Srinath's toes all the time. I have not seen any piece of performance that has matched this instance. He is definitely a forgotten man for all the contrinubtion and achievements that he did as a cricketer. The funny thing is, even though I am a spinner, I tried imitating his action to see if I can bowl pace.. but naah...

  • The.Neutralist on December 23, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    One of my favorites, unsung hero. We need players like him to sustain the real game spirit. He was a really good ODI bowler (Numerous times he took sachin's wicket).

    Thanks Cricinfo for a really good article.

  • on December 23, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    What a beautiful article!

    Fanie was a permanent villain for us when he perpetually got the better of Sachin during the days when he was trying so hard to go after him. Wondered when he disappeared relief notwithstanding :) When he talks about university-of-life at 29 it totally coincides with my own theory - nice to hear that. Thanks Sid for this amazing insight into the guy who will most likely be my favourite pacer of all time.

  • on December 23, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    He used to bowl straight to the stick and he would clean the tail with so much of ease...

  • Point4 on December 23, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    Fannie was a big hit among us (high school guys) during mid 90s.Interestingly his javelin throw background must have contributed to his bowling action which felt fantastic to watch at that time.theres one international bowler who has a similar action in modern cricket--Mitchell Johnson

  • Accumulator on December 23, 2010, 10:48 GMT

    I remember before the beginning of one-day matches either tony greig or ravi shastri would go out for a pitch report. During Titan cup, Fanie snuck up behind Tony grieg and smeared him with the white powder cricketers put and stunned him. Apparently Tony said something earlier and Fanie wanted to "pay" it back. That was so much fun. I can't remember any other cricketer who made sport look like sport and not like war as people do nowadays.

  • Dirkie on December 23, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    Yes! More of this. It is beautifully written and gives us great insights into the sport we adore and love so much. More please!

  • on December 23, 2010, 9:58 GMT

    Apart from his wicket taking ability what attracted me most,was an awesome ODI bowling Economy figured as 3.57 by the time of his retirement.Being economical often worth more than taking wickets in limited over cricket.In this He is superior than legends like Donald,Mcgrath and Wasim Akram.

  • Coolhand_Luke on December 23, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    Great stuff - mr Monga; Fanie has always been a metaphor of the turn-around of our nation - from an Afrikaner country bumpkin to an international competitor and now a forthright honest commentator - in short, a true Diamond in the rough. Perhaps cricketers like Gibbs and Petersen should go back to having fun and remembering that they are a country's ambassadors not show boaters.

  • on December 23, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    Apart from his wicket taking deliveries, what attracted me most was an awesome ODI bowling Economy figured as 3.57 by the time of his retirement.Being Economical often worth more than taking wickets in Limited Over cricket.

  • on December 23, 2010, 9:22 GMT

    Very nice article...The last sentence "cricketer who went through a lot in his life but never forgot his prime job was to entertain the people who paid good money to come to the grounds." is apt to Fanie

  • JeffG on December 23, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    In 1994, I (a Pom) was backpacking around Australia with a couple of mates. We'd been to see a day of the Sydney test between the Aussies and the Saffers and also an ODI at the MCG and had already developed a soft spot for Fanie.. We'd arrived in Adelaide just in time for the 3rd test. At our hostel we met a South African guy who was friendly with the SA team. He told us a great story about Fanie - it was the end of day 4 and SA were 18-3 chasing 320 to win. Fanie was the nightwatchman and was not out overnight. Clearly, there was a need for him to stick around for as long as possible on day 5 to help the run chase. So what did Fanie do? He allegedly went out on the beers, came back to his room in the wee small hours (with a "friend" he'd just met) and proceeded to keep his roommate (Daryl Cullinan I think) awake all night ! He then went out to bat in the morning and hung around for 3 hours and made 30 (but SA still lost by 200 runs.) What a legend !!!!!

  • Rumour on December 23, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    In the isolation era we used to have "Old Boks" vs "Young Boks" game. During one of these games, as a youngster I was trying to get autographs. Fanie did more than sign, he made sure to have a bit of a chat with everyone.

    I still remember he said something like - I hope Pollock make some runs, but not of him :-)

    This guy is and remain a legend

  • on December 23, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    De Villers was fabulous bowler - always trobule Tendulkar and got him out. He was quite economical and kept the batsman quite. I was glad when there was rumour he in contention to become India's bowling coach. However, it never happened. Thanks Fanie De Villers for entertaining us.

  • SAperspective on December 23, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    old fanie

    from Pretoria now called Tswane after apartheid . he overworked his legs. realy worked hard. He represents the change from a closed society to a new equal one. where you remember you are just a person not someones boss.

  • kjambur on December 23, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    Fantastic insights into one of cricket's lesser known, but nevertheless much loved ambassador. Very well written too... in an unassuming, fun sort of way that Fanie himself was. Pity he had a short career. There's no doubt Fanie would be his usual miserly self even during a 20-20 match.

  • on December 23, 2010, 7:56 GMT

    I used to hate him the most when i was a kid, Whenever he was given the ball sachin was back in the hut! now whenever i think of SA I remember Clive rice, Macmillan and fanie . fanie especially is a great ambassador making people laugh and have great fun, joy of watching cricket few players are blessed like him!

  • on December 23, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    loved his action....was my fav in 1990's...

  • on December 23, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Fanie..For Indian fans of the early 90's.Everything was odd about this man.His name,Dilect,his action,his crowd connection. and not to forget lethal offcutters. I have watched more than two decades of limited overs cricket but i have not seen a better limited overs bowler than him.Not even akram or donald.Remember those days when indian batsmen struggled against him even in home.And what his decision about his retirement ."People shud ask y not when . when u quit"

  • Mahesh_44 on December 23, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    Really great article, good job Sidharth Monga. Would love to read more such articles in future..Thanks for this one ..

  • sweetspot on December 23, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Oh Boy! This guy is some character! Wow, and what a real person! Great article, and for once, something worth bookmarking. I always admire people who can go around on their own in a foreign country and being a famous person, Fanie totally gets my respect. It means he wasn't fazed by the celebrity he was, and absolutely carried himself as a curious, original human being. My one memory of this guy was that he was very irritating as a bowler, and really hard to score off. Donald was a relief when he took over from Fanie, because pace or not, the game would move ahead! With Fanie, it was just 2 runs an over, and when he got a wicket, it was agonizing. Especially if he got Sachin out! What fun it would be having someone like Fanie around though (in OUR team, not against us)!!!

  • MrGarreth on December 23, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Fanie offered to coach India's bowlers in 2006. Madness that they didnt accept.

  • on December 23, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Wonderful person and a my favorite bowler. I remember him playing at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad just a few days after our birthday (yes, I share a bday with this amazing person) in October and wishing him while he was fielding at fine leg. He was standing a few metres behind the ropes to be near the crowd in between deliveries. When a wicket fell, he did not go to his teammates to congratulate, just thumbs-upped them and was busy signing sutographs and smiling at the crowd.

  • amit1807kuwait on December 23, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    One of the better pieces on Cricinfo. Well done Sidharth Monga. And for Fanie de Villiers - HATS OFF!!

  • on December 23, 2010, 5:44 GMT

    Fannie awesome bowling arm action. At that time I loved two bowlers Mcgrath and Fanie de Villiers. I remember one of his ball in Titan cup where sachin struggled to defend. His out swingers were outstanding and natural bowler.

  • Raj_pandian on December 23, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    Fanie great man u r!! thought u r a moody type.......but u seems to be very naughty and playful.. miss u man.... u r a legend...

  • sony_sr on December 23, 2010, 5:20 GMT

    Miss south africas 90's fast bowlers: donald, de villiers, greg mathews, brett schultz

  • TheOldBat on December 23, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Great article about a great guy. One of the all time SA greats - he has always been a clever cricketer right down to leaving the day he took a 10'for. He showed as Amla has now that one should not be put into a cricketing box. They always said he should be restricted to one-dayers where his economy counted. But his record in tests was only restricted by his short career. In one-days I will never forget his death bowling especially to the Australians at the Wanderers! He was also instrumental in a lot of the development work in the Northern Gauteng region from way back. Maybe some of those who don't actually listen to what he says today should start.

  • Percy_Fender on December 23, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    The Indian pace bowlers probably need this kind of coach. Easy to get along with and learning as well. If he can communicate with Ishant and others, I think he will be very good. He was a fantastic wicket taking bowler once I remember. Given his ability to improvise I think he is the ideal bowling coach. Not some somber figure who can only communicate with himself.

  • albstp on December 23, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    A real character and a tough guy. Miss those players.

  • Biggus on December 23, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    He was a bit of a space cadet, old Fanie was. I can remember him driving his radio-controlled car onto the oval during a match here 'down under' when he was 12th man for the game. That's what I remember about Fanie:-he was a real kid at heart, which isn't such a bad thing. He was also a pretty handy medium quick who always gave 100% and was a fine foil for Alan Donald. He somehow reminded me of Max Walker who performed a similar role for us in the '70s and early '80s and had a similarly engaging personality.

  • Caveman. on December 23, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Thanks for this piece on de Villiers. As a young schoolboy, I remember liking this cricketer immensely to the extent of trying to copy his bowling action. Given that the only other bowler whose action I ever tried to copy was another immensely likeable cricketer Wasim Akram (as much as a right arm fast bowler can copy a left armer's action), that speaks volumes of how much I liked and rooted for de Villiers when he bowled. Cricket needs more of such characters today.

  • on December 23, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    An amazing character who will never allow a dull moment on the field. I hated him during his playing days for being one of the more economical bowlers who could restrict the flow of Sachin Tendulkar. However, whenever I read of his exploits of the field, I loved his character. I would love for youngsters learn from him and Sachin how to conduct themselves while in a crowd. He was famous and he dealt with that in a very matured manner.We need characters like him in cricket.

  • on December 23, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    Awesome..de villiers..u are a grat man, no doubt.. who cares about the crowd today..Every one is concerned about getting a century and then remembers about the crowd..thet feel like kings talking to slaves, when it comes to talking to the crowd..Todays people should learn something from him..GREAT..Hats off to you..

  • deepanshdutt on December 23, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    I used to hate him back then because he was so economical as an opening bowler that he would either get Tendulkar out playing a shot on him or make Tendulkar go after Donald(who used to come first change) leading to wicket

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on December 23, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    Oh boy do I love me some Fanie.

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  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on December 23, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    Oh boy do I love me some Fanie.

  • deepanshdutt on December 23, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    I used to hate him back then because he was so economical as an opening bowler that he would either get Tendulkar out playing a shot on him or make Tendulkar go after Donald(who used to come first change) leading to wicket

  • on December 23, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    Awesome..de villiers..u are a grat man, no doubt.. who cares about the crowd today..Every one is concerned about getting a century and then remembers about the crowd..thet feel like kings talking to slaves, when it comes to talking to the crowd..Todays people should learn something from him..GREAT..Hats off to you..

  • on December 23, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    An amazing character who will never allow a dull moment on the field. I hated him during his playing days for being one of the more economical bowlers who could restrict the flow of Sachin Tendulkar. However, whenever I read of his exploits of the field, I loved his character. I would love for youngsters learn from him and Sachin how to conduct themselves while in a crowd. He was famous and he dealt with that in a very matured manner.We need characters like him in cricket.

  • Caveman. on December 23, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    Thanks for this piece on de Villiers. As a young schoolboy, I remember liking this cricketer immensely to the extent of trying to copy his bowling action. Given that the only other bowler whose action I ever tried to copy was another immensely likeable cricketer Wasim Akram (as much as a right arm fast bowler can copy a left armer's action), that speaks volumes of how much I liked and rooted for de Villiers when he bowled. Cricket needs more of such characters today.

  • Biggus on December 23, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    He was a bit of a space cadet, old Fanie was. I can remember him driving his radio-controlled car onto the oval during a match here 'down under' when he was 12th man for the game. That's what I remember about Fanie:-he was a real kid at heart, which isn't such a bad thing. He was also a pretty handy medium quick who always gave 100% and was a fine foil for Alan Donald. He somehow reminded me of Max Walker who performed a similar role for us in the '70s and early '80s and had a similarly engaging personality.

  • albstp on December 23, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    A real character and a tough guy. Miss those players.

  • Percy_Fender on December 23, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    The Indian pace bowlers probably need this kind of coach. Easy to get along with and learning as well. If he can communicate with Ishant and others, I think he will be very good. He was a fantastic wicket taking bowler once I remember. Given his ability to improvise I think he is the ideal bowling coach. Not some somber figure who can only communicate with himself.

  • TheOldBat on December 23, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Great article about a great guy. One of the all time SA greats - he has always been a clever cricketer right down to leaving the day he took a 10'for. He showed as Amla has now that one should not be put into a cricketing box. They always said he should be restricted to one-dayers where his economy counted. But his record in tests was only restricted by his short career. In one-days I will never forget his death bowling especially to the Australians at the Wanderers! He was also instrumental in a lot of the development work in the Northern Gauteng region from way back. Maybe some of those who don't actually listen to what he says today should start.

  • sony_sr on December 23, 2010, 5:20 GMT

    Miss south africas 90's fast bowlers: donald, de villiers, greg mathews, brett schultz