In & Out: The doggie in the window that captured our hearts

2014-09-21 15:00

When AB de Villiers walks on to SuperSport Park Centurion on December 17 for the first test in the upcoming series against the West Indies, it will be 10 years to the day since he made his test debut for the Proteas.

That’s a decade of probably the nicest guy in sport, who has become somewhat of a household name in South Africa, like Omo washing powder, Koo beans or Lovers Plus condoms. Can we ever really imagine a Proteas

line-up without those puppy eyes and AB’s terrier-like attitude?

Soon after AB was introduced to the family, we forgot about that erstwhile loveable chap Jonty Rhodes, as is usually the case with the arrival of a new pup. Whether at mid-off or as a replacement for One-Eyed Boucher behind the stumps, it’s not just AB’s agility and versatility that make him a legend. Sure, his acrobatics and superb batting are a sight to behold, but what endears him most is his undying optimism and dogged determination.

At the time of his debut, he was a breath of fresh air in a team still shaking off the spectre of a drab Hansie Cronje’s sticky fingers and devilish tales.

He might not have had Allan Donald’s white-streaked sass, but he was an open-faced promise of an upcoming litter of talented young cricketers you could invite to Ouma’s house for Sunday lunch, extended to tea and soetkoekies, and possibly evening brandy on the stoep.

We chuckled and smiled knowingly when we discovered he’s an aspiring

Afrikaans pop star, but we soon forgave him. After all, what’s a golden boy without a touch of unabashed hubris? Besides, AB’s thinning pate is a reminder that his years as a sportsman are numbered, and good taste alone isn’t enough to prescribe what a

living legend may choose as his second career.

In a “lighter-side” video posted on this week titled “If I wasn’t a cricketer, I would be…”, AB responded he’d be a doctor. He said this, of course, before singing us a little ditty. Perhaps he was aware his parents might at some point come across that video.

It’s noted on the AB de Villiers fan site that the song he wrote with his buddy Ampie du Preez in 2008, Show Them Who You Are, “became the anthem of the Proteas’ rise to victory against Australia...”

So not only is our beloved AB putting in the hard yards on the practice and playing fields, he’s offering valuable moral support to his team-mates, one chord at a time. (Legend has it AB takes his guitar with him on tour. Lucky boys, those Proteas.)

With 95 test caps and a decade of stellar service to his country and fans under his collar, here’s to AB: ultimate cricketer, singer-songwriter and all-round nice guy.

» Longbottom is an armchair cricket critic. For AB’s sake, he ­believes what happens on the subcontinent, in terms of karaoke evenings, should stay on the subcontinent

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