De Villiers answers boo boys
The indignant boos from a stirred-up Headingley Carnegie crowd shocked AB de Villiers into playing one of his finest innings as South Africa took control of the second npower Test against England.
De Villiers was the target for sections of the crowd yesterday after he claimed a catch when the ball had been grounded on the opening day.
And it was that ungenerous response from the public which provided the motivation he needed on his way to 174 out of South Africa's 522, leaving England 319 behind and needing to bat more than two days to avoid going 1-0 down in the four-match series.
De Villiers and Ashwell Prince (149) today completed a record fifth-wicket stand of 212 before England reached a vulnerable 50 for two at stumps.
Reflecting on the events of the previous two days, de Villiers was most taken aback not by the initial outcry over the slip catch he claimed and saw disallowed against Andrew Strauss, but the moody discontent which stayed with the crowd 24 hours later.
"I walked out there, and it is the first time ever I've been booed walking onto a field," he said. "That is really disappointing and hurt quite a lot. But if anything it motivated me to do better."
De Villiers' sixth Test century was an effective way to put the boos behind him.
"It's very rewarding and satisfying to be sitting here now with a hundred behind my belt," he said.
De Villiers was given a frosty reception by the England fielders when he began his innings, but he admits it was no more than he was anticipating.
"I did get my fair share of words when I walked on - and I wasn't expecting anything less," he said.
"That is part of the game, and if anything it played into my hands - and it motivated me to stay there as long as possible.
"I was a bit lucky at stages, played and missed at a few. But that's part of playing on wickets that move around."
James Anderson was one of a five-strong England attack frustrated during de Villiers' 380-ball innings, but the Lancastrian was happy to give due credit.
"He showed really good concentration. Hats off to him - he really did play well," said Anderson, who as England's nightwatchman must tomorrow help opener Alastair Cook set the tone for a rearguard innings.
He knows it will be tough to eke out an unlikely draw, following the example South Africa set in the first Test at Lord's when it was they who seemed destined, after the first three days, to go 1-0 down in the series.
"It's obviously been a frustrating couple of days," Anderson said of his and his team-mates' efforts in the field.
"The ball did swing a little bit more than at Lord's, and we beat the bat a little bit more than we did there, which made it that bit more frustrating."
As for the determination now required to put things right, Anderson acknowledged: "We're going to have to bat well tomorrow, really dig in.
"They're going to come out all guns blazing, and we're going to have to battle hard and put in a similar performance to what they did both here and at Lord's."
He is determined to do his bit - and is confident others will too.
"I'm in at four and I might be able to hang around for a bit," he said. "But we've got guys all the way down to Broady [Stuart Broad] - who's going to be at nine - so we've got plenty of batting left in the tent. Obviously a couple of guys are going to need to get big hundreds."