Belfast Telegraph

Cricket World Cup: White an instant fan of de Villiers

By Ian Callender

Andrew White will not forget his first sight of South African ace AB de Villiers.

The then 20-year-old AB was playing for Carrickfergus against Instonians. Six days earlier he had scored a stunning 233 not out against Cliftonville at Middle Road, the highest score in an NCU top division limited overs match.

The following Saturday the South African was showing his class again as he opened the batting at Shaw’s Bridge against Instonians, with White lining out for the opposition.

Fifty overs later, de Villiers had batted through another 50 overs without being dismissed and, for the first time anyone could remember, scored a second successive double century. This time he made 208 not out from 157 balls with 16 fours and seven sixes out of a total of 302 for six.

Today, a thigh injury permitting, he was due to face Ireland in their World Cup Group B clash in Kolkata.

“You could see from the start he was a class act,” recalls White — Ireland’s most capped player at the World Cup — of the game in July 2004.

“We knew about his junior performances as a South Africa international but he wasn’t being talked about as being a big star. It’s great to see what he has done.”

De Villiers is currently the second best one-day batsman in the world — behind team-mate Hashim Amla — but, seven years on, White still can remember incidents from that Section One game in Belfast.

“I remember he square cut the ‘world famous’ Billy Dale off the front foot for four. It was a wet sort of a day but I can still see it. It went like a tracer bullet. He had so much time,” said White.

“After his hundred he started peppering the trees along the banks of the Lagan. It was good to watch but his figures are just incredible.

“He farmed the strike at the end of the over, every ball was hit off the middle of the bat and everything seemed to go for four or six.

“I still remind John Stevenson that he dropped AB off my bowling when he was 60. But when he got his hundred he just went to town.”

That innings was de Villiers last game in the NCU. The following week he was called up by South Africa A and, as they say, the rest is history.

As for Carrickfergus, they won only one more game that season but de Villiers had made such an impact that the team finished eight points clear of Belfast Harlequins.

Carrick have been ever-present in the top flight ever since, usually with the help of a South African professional.

But no-one is likely to repeat the feat of the man from Pretoria.

Meanwhile, Ireland captain William Porterfield was yesterday given an official reprimand by the ICC for his public criticism of umpire Asoka de Silva after the West Indies match.

Porterfield told the after-match press conference that “in his opinion, the decision to give out Gary Wilson leg before wicket was wrong”.

Porterfield accepted the sanction without contest so there was no need for a hearing.

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