AB de Villiers wrote his name into the record books in the course of his unbeaten double-hundred, passing Graeme Smith's record in reaching 278 not out before South Africa declared at 584 for 9, and paid tribute to the man whose record he now holds at the end of the second day's play. "I'd like to dedicate that knock to Graeme," said de Villiers. "He showed a lot of class in his captaincy by allowing me to go through and to get that record. I thought we could have declared a bit earlier but he wanted me to push on and to get that record.
"I never expected to reach this kind of record. I did start believing when I got my double-hundred in India a couple of years ago, that's definitely when the belief started but before then there was no hope at all. I was just playing the game for the fun of it and hoping to get a hundred here and there. The mindset has changed quite a bit and I do know now that I'm capable of scoring big runs and hopefully I will maintain that kind of form."
He pushed the mark one run further than his captain had against England at Edgbaston more than seven years ago, edged three runs past Daryll Cullinan and Gary Kirsten's joint record, and surpassed Graeme Pollock's Test best by a good four runs. But de Villiers needed some help from the tailenders to get to the mark. He was on 160 when Dale Steyn joined him at the crease, and was just nine runs short of his double-hundred when Steyn departed almost 20 overs later, their stand worth 59.
Paul Harris also stuck around, helping add 35 for the ninth wicket and seeing de Villiers through to his double ton. But the best was saved for last as de Villiers and No. 11 Morne Morkel put together an unbroken 107 for the 10th wicket which not only saw de Villiers through to the landmark but also broke a South African record, beating the 103 that Tuppy Owen-Smith and Sandy Bell put on against England at Headingley in 1929.
"All the tailenders that stuck it out with me there today were quite amazing and they were all willing to give me the strike to get to the record," said de Villiers. "They were all willing to come out there and to put their bodies on the line. That even inspired me, to watch Morne and Dale and Harry and all of them getting into line and really taking the knocks for the team.
"It was a very special day, and even more special to get ourselves out of trouble after we were three down early on in the Test match. That's how I play this game, I like to be a team man and to get us out of trouble. It's a very special day and a very special innings."