What’s the story?
If the New Zealand bowlers felt that their plans to stop South African skipper AB de Villiers from teeing off was not working as expected, they received unexpected support from the ground staff at the Seddon Park in Hamilton. During the fourth ODI between the two teams, the staff at the venue tried to disturb the dynamic batsman’s rhythm by blaring his song 'Maak Jou Drome Waar' on the loudspeaker when he was in the middle.
At the end of the match, de Villiers laughed off the incident and said, “I was singing along. No one picked it up but I was actually playing a bit of air guitar on my bat as well. I thought I'd be on the highlights package. I love it. They've got to do it more often.”
However, the ground staff’s attempt to break de Villiers’ concentration did not quite work as the 33-year old hammered a quick-fire 72 featuring some of his trademark audacious strokes. On his unbelievable reverse pull shot to a slower bouncer from Trent Boult, he admitted, “They bowled pretty well at the end and even though we got hold of them, I wasn't expecting that ball. I just adapted to what I saw and luckily I got it in the middle.”
Apart from being one of the most destructive ODI batsmen in the circuit, de Villiers is also a capable guitar player and singer. In August 2010, he released a bilingual pop album called 'Maak Jou Drome Waar' in collaboration with close friend and popular South African singer-songwriter Ampie du Preez.
The heart of the matter
Needing a victory to take the 5-match ODI series to the decider, New Zealand lost the toss on a sluggish surface in Hamilton. After Jeetan Patel removed both of their openers, South Africa stuttered in the middle overs in the face of some tight bowling from the hosts. Surprisingly, de Villiers dropped down the order one spot and came in at number five. Despite facing only 59 balls, he still managed to inflict serious damage in the death overs.
However, the day belonged to Kiwi opener Martin Guptill who was returning to the side after a hamstring injury. The explosive right-hander smashed an unbeaten 138-ball 180 to propel the home team to a comfortable seven-wicket victory.
The winner-takes-all series finale will take place on Saturday at the Eden Park in Auckland. If New Zealand go on to win, it will be their only second home ODI series triumph against South Africa.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that a New Zealand cricket stadium’s ground staff have tried to unsettle a player. In this case, however, de Villiers played along to the music and lit up the arena with his game. After all, he is a man of many talents.
The incident had no severe repercussions but this method to put off the opposition batsmen is not in the spirit of the game.