De Villiers on right path to emulate childhood hero Rhodes

December 26th, 2008 - 5:45 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Dec 26 (ANI): Abraham Benjamin de Villiers emulated his childhood hero Johnty Rhodes with his superb catching against Australia last week during the first Test at WACA and then taking his team to incredible first-Test victory while batting in the second innings.

At the age of 8 years de villiers decided to be like Jonty after watching him haring in from point and diving forward at full length to run out Pakistans Inzamam ul-Haq, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In doing so, he helped his country write a new chapter in its post-isolation history, which started painfully when the Proteas were ejected from that World Cup because of rules for revising the target in rain-affected matches, which were subsequently changed.

I remember watching his run-out when I was eight years old watching the 1992 World Cup. It was four in the morning, I watched that run-out live and I decided that is what I want to do one day. Lucky, I have got the opportunity, de Villiers said.

I think I have got massive footsteps to fill. He was an amazing sportsman and, even better, an amazing person off the field. So he is a real role model for me, he said.

De Villiers four brilliant catches at the WACA Ground, including a blinder diving forward in the slips, moved former Australian captain and slips specialist Mark Taylor to remark from the commentary box that the 24-year-olds catching in the cordon was in fact better than that of Rhodes.

I always fielded in the backyard to my brothers. I had to field the whole time and maybe get an opportunity to bat before the end of the day. I grew up catching balls, going crazy, running around diving and trying to impress my brothers. I just love ball sports, he said.

De Villiers said that he was a bundle of nerves the night before he helped South Africa chase down 414 for victory.

The night before when I was 11 not out, I got to the hotel and I was pretty tense. That 11 I worked really hard for because I knew if I lost my wicket then we were in big trouble. I was really nervous and I thought, ”I”ve got a massive mountain to climb tomorrow”, de Villiers said.

De Villiers finished on 106 not out, a fine companion to his 63 in the first innings and a continuation of the rise of the former child prodigy who has been a critical part of the emergence of the new South African side since a 22-year-old Graeme Smith took over the captaincy. (ANI)

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