Pakistan v SA

AB: Record chance a surprise

2010-11-21 22:30
AB de Villiers raises his bat as he reaches the 250 mark. (AFP)

Eduan Roos

Abu Dhabi – AB de Villiers, who dedicated his unbeaten marathon innings of 278 runs to captain Graeme Smith, says he only had the team’s declaration on his mind during the day’s play.

The 26-year-old Pretoria batsman scored the highest Test score to date by a South African and to top it off, led the Proteas to a huge 584/9 in the deciding cricket Test against Pakistan.

But de Villiers didn’t realise until he surpassed the 250 mark, that his captain had made the decision to allow him to bat on for the record.

"This innings is for Graeme, because if it wasn't for his decision to keep me batting, I wouldn't even have come close," said De Villiers.

"I was ready to come off as soon as I had reached 250, but Graeme let me know from the cloakroom that I should try to break the record."

"It surprised me because I thought to myself that we should've declared earlier already."

Smith, the South African captain, earlier held the record with the 277, which he hit in 2003 in Birmingham against England.

After the game, De Villiers also had lots of praise for his best friend, Morné Morkel, with whom he scored an unbeaten 107 for the 10th wicket to improve on the record of 104 that was set up by Tuppy Owen-Smith and Sandy Bell in 1929.

"If Morné hadn't been batting with me for so long I wouldn't have been able to do it," said De Villiers.

"Until recently, we were housemates and I'm sure in years to come we will still talk about this partnership. We will definitely celebrate it with a few beers after the Test."

Before Smith, Gary Kirsten and Daryll Cullinan held the record with 275 runs each.

"These guys were my heroes when I was a laaitie (young man) and I would never have dreamt that one day I would beat them," he said.

"It is a very special day and I will never forget this feeling."

Not even the insults by Pakistani paceman Umar Gul could rattle De Villiers in his innings of more than 10 hours.

"Umar said a few personal things that I wouldn't like to repeat, but it is part of cricket and what happens on the field, stays on the field. At least he was man enough to shake my hand after my innings."


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