Headingley boo-boys inspire de Villiers

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/a/abdevilliers.jpg' class='caption'> AB de Villiers said the taunts of the Headingley crowd provided all the motivation he needed to score a century that put South Africa firmly in command.

Updated: July 25, 2008 09:32 IST
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AB de Villiers said the taunts of the Headingley crowd provided all the motivation he needed to score a century that put South Africa firmly in command of the second Test against England.

De Villiers's 174 out of a total of 522 helped give the Proteas a first innings lead of 319 after they'd bowled England out for 203.

Makhaya Ntini then struck twice before stumps to leave England 50 for two in their second innings, still 269 behind.

That meant England had to bat two days to save this match and prevent the Proteas taking a 1-0 lead in this four-match series.

The 24-year-old de Villiers's sixth Test hundred was a study in concentration and application. Together with Ashwell Prince, who made a Test-best 149, he shared a South African record fifth-wicket stand against England of 212.

However, even before he'd faced his first ball, de Villiers had to endure boos from fans unhappy with the way in which he appeared to claim a catch, which would have seen Andrew Strauss dismissed on Friday's first day, only for replays to show he'd dropped the ball.

Strauss was reprieved by the third umpire and, in any event, was out soon afterwards. But the incident created lingering ill-feeling towards de Villiers amongst both spectators and the England team.

"It was the first time ever I have been booed to the field and if anything it motivated me to do better," de Villiers said after Sunday's third day.

"I've never been booed onto the field before. It was very disappointing. It hurt a lot and I don't think I deserved it."

He added: "I don't understand it. The truth of what happened was that the ball went into my right hand and straight into my left hand.

"I went straight to my captain (Graeme Smith) and told him I wasn't 100 percent sure. I saw a bit of grass on my left pinky (little finger) but the umpires were already referring it.

"There was no way I was going to let Andrew Strauss walk off the field without telling the umpires I wasn't sure."

At the subsequent lunch break de Villiers, according to South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, was on the receiving end of some harsh words from England captain Michael Vaughan.

However, a somewhat more diplomatic de Villiers, added: "It's a true gentleman's game, and whatever is said on the field or in the changing room is all right and I'm happy with what happened."

And he insisted the reaction of the England team when he took guard had come as no surprise.

"I did get my fair share of words when I walked on and I wasn't expecting anything less. That is part of the game, and if anything it played into my hands. It motivated me to stay there as long as possible," said de Villiers, who batted for more than eight-and-a-half hours and faced 380 balls.

England nightwatchman James Anderson, who bowled a marathon 44 overs, said of de Villiers's innings: "He showed really good concentration. Hats off to him - he really did play well."

Looking ahead, Anderson said England could still save the game.

"We're going to have to bat well," he said.

"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 (where the Proteas batted for two days to draw the first Test).

"Stuart Broad is going to be at No 9, so we've got plenty of batting left. Obviously, a couple of guys are going to need to get big hundreds."

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