AB de Villiers crushed an unbeaten 88 from just 43 balls to wow Lord’s for the second time this week, but also had a few complimentary words about English fans that will raise a few Proteas eyebrows.
Following on from Sunday’s remarkable World Cup final, the home of cricket was once again treated to a show as de Villiers clubbed 5 fours and 6 sixes en route to Middlesex’s seven-wicket victory over Essex.
The South African legend courted controversy during the recent World Cup when it emerged that he had made himself available for selection just one day prior to the squad’s announcement, despite retiring from international cricket the previous year.
de Villiers offered a swift rebuttal once South Africa’s elimination was confirmed and perhaps that incident lead the superstar to make a few choice comments about the fans worldwide.
“I must be careful with my words now, but generally what I feel like, I won’t compare it to the IPL, but the crowds around England are generally more knowledgeable about the game of cricket than most parts of the world, and I’m including South Africa,” said de Villiers after the match.
🔥 A debut to remember for @ABdeVilliers17 🔥
A breathtaking 8️⃣8️⃣ from 4️⃣3️⃣ balls last night 💥🙌
Here are the highlights… pic.twitter.com/hh9cRCzuvy
— Middlesex Cricket (@Middlesex_CCC) July 19, 2019
“Most parts you have fans here who understand the game exceptionally well, so you feel like you’re entertaining the people who sort of study the game in a way. You get a lot of noise around the world in other tournaments, this is more clapping, but they understand the game and you have the respect as a player, which is amazing,”
The modern-day legend then spoke about the Vitality T20 Blast in comparison to other franchise cricket competitions.
“The quality of cricket was right up there, obviously it’s not broadcasted around the world, which makes it a bit different to IPL and other tournaments, but I mean, it’s fantastic”
Smith underwent a “precautionary scan” of his neck that thankfully had not revealed any structural damage.
“I think it was important that we bounced back strongly after Edgbaston and I think we’ve certainly done that.”
Jofra Archer has changed the mood if not the scoreline.
Steve Smith out, Marnus Labuschagne in.
Woakes enjoyed Archer v Smith just as much as the rest of us.
The marquee might read England v Australia, but we all know it’s Steve Smith v Jofra Archer
Thankfully, Smith appears to have suffered no lasting damage.
Olly Stone has been ruled out of the rest of the season with a partial lower back stress fracture.
It’ll take a superb spell of bowling or a shambolic batting collapse for either side to win from here.
Click to see Steve Smith’s ‘cat on a hot tin roof’ impression.