De Villiers to live out Smith, Kallis legacy

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AB de Villiers' four-award haul at Cricket South Africa's annual prize giving not only signaled the start of a new era, it also highlighted just how important his role will be following the departure of players who are considered irreplaceable.

AB de Villiers' four-award haul at Cricket South Africa's annual prize giving not only signaled the start of a new era, it also highlighted just how important his role will be following the departure of players who are considered irreplaceable.

De Villiers won the ultimate prize – SA Cricketer of the Year – and his prolific runs-scoring ability in the Test arena also saw him walk away with the gong in that format. But it was the recognition he received from fans and colleagues that pinpointed just how much he is valued and respected as a player.

De Villiers almost always entertains when he represents his country and, from beginnings where his boyish looks were part of the package, the rapidly-balding wicketkeeper-batsman now finds himself in a position where he simply has to continue setting the bar for those who wish to be part of Proteas culture.

"It was a special night for me, I think the first two awards was in a funny way really unique and very special," said de Villiers.

"As for the Fans's Cricketer of the Year, I understand that part of the reason that I'm here today is because of the fans – not only the fans but my family as well and my wife who has been the biggest supporter of them all.

"The Player's Pllayer of the Year is a very unique award as well. I'm very proud of that one, it means the players have faith in you and your ability and regard you as a good player and an influential player in the team."

De Villiers again reflected on the work legends like Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith conducted to ensure South Africa remained one of the world's premier cricketing nations and said that he would make it his mission to ensure those decades of sweat and tears were not in vain.

"They left an amazing legacy and it is up to guys like myself, Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, as a senior group, to take it forward and not to let go of what has been created in the past. It is our role and responsibility to lead the youngsters, to show them the way so they can take over from us one day."

Of all the leaders in the remaining crop of senior Proteas players, de Villiers might be the only one who is not considered a specialist in a specific format of the game – which means he is likely to represent his country at every possible juncture.

This is why the fans have spoken by naming him their favourite, while incredible statistics and leadership over all three formats saw him receive the proverbial pat on the back by his fellow players.

<b>Michael Mentz</b> <i>at the CSA awards</i>

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