At a news conference after his team’s Cricket World Cup loss to New Zealand, as the emotions of the defeated captain were almost painfully raw, AB de Villiers’ most revealing answer was of only one word.
De Villiers’ voice cracked as he fielded questions, and he paused at times to wipe his eyes. At other moments, his answers tailed off and he looked almost vacantly into the middle distance.
He was being asked to articulate the emotions of defeat, a defeat by the slightest of margins, at a time when it was still too recent and too bitter. He did his best, but he likely conveyed with his demeanour more than he could with his words the deep sorrow he felt at the end of another, ill-fated South African World Cup campaign.
Finally, he was asked whether this was the worst he had felt on a cricket field, and he answered, simply, frankly, “Yes.”
That single syllable spoke more eloquently than any of his deeper and more reasoned answers. This was the nadir of de Villiers’ career as South Africa captain: His deep belief in his team’s ability to win under any circumstances had been tested and even shaken, and he found the dissolution of his hopes almost too much to bear.
He was asked whether it would eventually make him feel better, make the loss more endurable, that he had been been part of one of the World Cup’s greatest games.
“It doesn’t make me feel better at all,” he said. “My goal is to win games of cricket, to take glory home, and make a difference in the nation’s heart and hope, and we didn’t achieve that, and it hurts quite a bit. I’m gutted. We had our chances and didn’t take them.
“Lots of people back home were supporting us. We think of all of them, and it’s so bad. We wanted to take that trophy back home, but life moves on, the sun will come up tomorrow.”