AB de Villiers insisted he was motivated by the boos of the home crowd as he batted the tourists into a commanding position in the second Test against England.
The South African hero was jeered by the Headingley fans after claiming a slip catch off Andrew Strauss on the opening day, despite clearly spilling it onto the ground. But the batsman had the last laugh after racking up a resilient 174 in eight-and-a-half hours at the crease to leave his side on the brink of victory.
His record-breaking stand of 212 with Ashwell Prince helped the Proteas to a first innings total of 522 – a lead of 319. And the tourists weren’t finished there as they dismissed both Strauss and England captain Michael Vaughan to leave the hosts floundering on 50-2 with a full two days to play.
De Villiers said: “It is the first time ever I’ve been booed walking onto a field. That is really disappointing and hurt quite a lot. But if anything it motivated me to do better.
“I did get my fair share of words when I walked on (from the England players) and I wasn’t expecting anything less. 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.”
On the ‘catch’, De Villiers admitted he was not 100 per cent sure he took it cleanly. “I’m not a guy who could go to bed at night knowing a batsman wasn’t out and had to walk off the field.”
After Prince was eventually out just one run short of his 150, De Villiers continued to lead the charge before he was eventually caught brilliantly by Andrew Flintoff off Stuart Broad.
Monty Panesar tore through the tail for rather flattering figures of 3-65, but England’s troubles worsened when Strauss and Vaughan both edged Makhaya Ntini deliveries to Mark Boucher to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb to save the match.