AB de Villiers’ Advice For Protea Youngsters, And His Goals As A Player
AB de Villiers is 35 years old and is enjoying his downtime and life as a sportsman more than ever before. The key, says AB, is balance; with the cricketer making the most of his family time – and in the process, reducing the workload on his body. As we saw in 2019’s local Mzansi Super League (MSL), it has been the formula for some fantastic cricket. “People pay to watch cricket because they want to be entertained. That’s what we try to do,” he says, and on that front AB has never failed to deliver.
Sitting down with MH in 2020, he’s gained perspective on the game and his career, and AB’s also forged new relationships with world class brands such as Montblanc. Here’s what he had to say.
With the likes of Amla, Morkel, Steyn and yourself out of the national side, the Proteas have a much younger squad. What advice do you have for the current youngsters?
There is no secret formula. The keys to success in international cricket are the same as the keys to success in every field: work hard and try to enjoy what you do. There is always pressure when the Proteas play and it can sometimes feel as if there is nowhere to hide, but it helps to remember what you have achieved to be selected in the first place and never to overlook the massive privilege of representing your country.
The country couldn’t be prouder of Siya Kolisi, how important is leadership in sport when it comes to SA?
As much as any country, SA has revered its sporting heroes, and it was incredible to see how Siya and the Springboks performed in Japan. He presented calm and clear leadership under the most intense pressure… and set an amazing example to us all.
How important are platforms such as the MSL for cricket in South Africa?
The MSL is important for SA Cricket because every major cricketing country needs to host a major T20 competition. It’s the most popular format of the game, and it generates both public interest and, all going well, in due course, revenue.
You played with the Tshwane Spartans, how was that experience?
Mark Boucher assembled an excellent squad and although we didn’t have much luck with weather, with 5 of our 10 pool matches being abandoned, we played some decent cricket. Hopefully, the team can continue this improvement [in 2020].
You’re 35 years old, how has the game changed for you over the years, and what toll has it had on your body?
I am still managing to play top class cricket in various parts of the world, getting the same buzz as ever.
I have been playing professional cricket for almost 17 years now, and it has been necessary to reduce my workload in recent seasons. This strategy has worked well, with positive impact on both mind and body. I see much more of my wife and two young sons, than was once the case, and that is fantastic, and I am still managing to play top class cricket in various parts of the world, getting the same buzz as ever.
Since retiring from the Proteas, how have you spent your time? How important is it for guys with busy schedules to prioritise family time – any advice?
Since retiring from the Proteas in 2018, I have spent much more time with my family and organised my schedule with more care. This strategy has been criticised now and then, and people have said I am picking and choosing, but it’s impossible to exaggerate how much I enjoy spending time with my wife and children; taking the boys to school, hitting golf balls with them. If you miss these days, you can never get them back.
How important is training now?
Training is important, of course, and experience teaches you how and when to train to optimise performance. Quality is more important than quantity, but that doesn’t mean there are not times when you need to put in the hours. It’s absolutely clear to me that you get on the field whatever you put into your training; no shortcuts.
Take us through your recovery post-match?
There are no great secrets. The warm-down routines are important, but there has never been anything wrong with a cold beer with your teammates after the match. It’s important to complete the physical process, and then to relax a bit.
In this stage of your career, what are your goals now as a player?
People pay to watch cricket because they want to be entertained. That’s what we try to do.
My goals are still the same. Work hard, always give 100%, keep the interests of the team above your own interests and try to excite and engage the spectators. People pay to watch cricket because they want to be entertained. That’s what we try to do.
How do you feel about being a Montblanc brand ambassador and what does this mean to you?
It’s a huge honour. Montblanc is one of the great luxury brands in the world and the quality of their products are amazing. The range is classic and timeless, and yet it always seems to be evolving. I am eager to add value wherever possible.