AB The Autobiography by AB de Villiers is one of the finest sports autobiography I have read till date. It was as entertaining as his batting and like runs freely flows from his bat so is his autobiography written in flow with complete honesty which I felt while reading it.
I have read quite a few sports autobiography and have found them relatively boring to read as they seems to be a recording of the matches played by the players and its results. Either the player is thanking people who helped him or her in the course of career or lambasting media for creating controversy over petty issues for TRP.
But AB The Autobiography is different. It is a candid telling of his sporting career with insights and analysis of the game and fellow players, dressing room anecdotes and his own psyche towards the game. It is ABD’s autobiography but it is written not as an individual player but as a team player. So the readers will get to read a lot of ‘WE’ rather than ‘I’. In fact his heart went for cricket only because it was a team game otherwise he was also awesome in tennis as well.
ABD who is known for his unorthodox batting style where he has hit balls in the most insanely unbelievable manner, much to the ballers frustration, has this special ability with pen as well to transport the readers on the cricketing field.
He has given a vivid description of matches sometimes ball by ball and sometimes over by over. It was magical and thrilling to read. I almost felt like watching a live cricket match present in the field and knows what is going inside the head of ABD and around the field.
In fact he started his autobiography by the giving account of epic ODI match between S. Africa and W. Indies played in 2015 in which he hits 162 off 64 balls and S. Africa manages to raise a mammoth total of 439 runs. It was a complete thrill to read it. And much to the readers delight such enthralling accounts could be read throughout the book. I almost came in the nail-biting phase when he was describing the last over of Dale Styeyn bowling to Grant Elliot of New Zealand requiring just 5 runs to enter the 2015 World Cup final.
He has not only described the glorifying matches but also those moments when he was not able to do much with the bat. He was not hesitant to recall matches when he was out with a duck and recounted them also in the most lucid way that readers can’t stop themselves from admiring the pure-heart of ABD.
ABD has described T20 and ODI matches as well but he mainly concentrated on Test matches as like many cricketers even he thinks that Test Cricket is the format which test the real ability and potential of a cricketer.
ABD has grown up with sports crazy elder brothers and has a fascinating and sports filled childhood. He has played tennis, hockey, rugby, golf then finally settling with cricket. It was fun and engaging to read his childhood stint with cricket in 20 Mentz Avenue and Affies and his brothers.
He has an impeccable writing style. He always starts a new chapter with an engaging conversation or a reflecting insight or an interesting anecdote which engages readers to read further. Readers turns page after page out of enthusiasm and curiosity to know more about this outstanding cricketer.
ABD has shared many interesting anecdotes of his life like his brother’s friend took away his Jonty’s cap because he dropped a catch, his little secret of Affies days, his friendship with Morkel brothers and the time he rented apartment with them, his proposal to Danielle at The Taj Mahal and his wedding details with the song written by his wife.
There are players who keep harping in their autobiography about how big honour it is to play for their country, that they are proud of their country etc etc. But ABD is different. He has devoted one full chapter on S. Africa describing his country in the most beautiful way, the spirit of people, he has quoted inspiring words of Nelson Mandela which clearly fills those pages with ethos of patriotism.
There is also one small chapter on India to thank Indian fans for love and support. It was interesting to look at my country from eyes of an oversea player. He compared India now and one in 1990’s. He wrote about the time spend in India with Indian players during IPL season and also traveled in tuk-tuk which according to his description seems to be an auto-rickshaw. He ends that chapter saying “क्रिकेट खेलने के लिए सबसे अच्छी जगह भारत है”. It really touched my heart.
Throughout the book ABD has honestly expressed his feeling. He was clear to express his hatred for the word Chokers, his uneasiness facing media, his surprise to find his auction value in the first IPL, his joy to captain the test match, his commitment towards his professional and personal life, his faith in god, his shortcoming in the game. He was not good in defending his wicket against the good deliveries. With the help of Jacques Kallis he strengthen his defensive techniques which enable him to play long and steady innings.
Apart from ABD, readers will also get to know a lot about the legendary cricketers like Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Greame Smith and other fellow players of his time. He has also written about life as a captain. It was real good to read.
He hasn’t included any controversial content to make the book sensational like many players do in their autobiography. He has touched upon the politics in the selection of players, racism but he really didn’t go into details. Nor that I missed it.
But I found one major flaw in the book. The statistic given in the book and one that are available online on the official cricketing sites are not similar. It says that AB has 14000 runs for South Africa in 98 tests which is wrong. He has 8000 something runs in the format.
Indian has always loved ABD as a cricketer but after reading his autobiography one will also admire him as a person for his humbleness, for his sportsmanship may be also as a writer.
It is an extraordinary autobiography a must read for anyone whether a fan or not, whether the follower of the game or not.
It will be an amazing read for any Indian cricket fan as we know a lot about our own country cricket players but not so much about oversea players.