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Carrick sign SA star de Villiers

Abraham Benjamin de Villiers, a 20 year old South African opening batsman/ wicketkeeper, has been signed as Carrickfergus Cricket Club's overseas professional as they prepare for their first ever season in Ulster Bank League Section One.

Popularly known as "AB", de Villiers is one of the rising young stars of South African cricket and, according to many experts, is destined to really go places. He comes from Pretoria and plays provincial cricket for Northerns Titans, who are based at the famous Test venue of Supersport Park in Centurion. This season, AB made his debut for Northerns in both the South African first class and limited overs domestic competitions. He announced his arrival in first class cricket in style, scoring fifties in each of his four innings. He had previously made 60 in a friendly against Sri Lanka "A" in 2002, and scored 107 against Canada in a World Cup warm-up match in January 2003. Incidentally, his team-mates for Northerns Titans include South African Test stars Jacques Rudolph, Neil McKenzie, and Martin van Jaarsveld, and they are captained by former Cliftonville pro, Gerald Dros.

AB was educated at the Afrikaans Hoer Seunskool and helped them become South African Schools' Champions in 2002. He had a brilliant schools cricket career, averaging over 50 with his most memorable innings being 196 off just 136 balls against Pretoria Boys High School. He played for his province's schools representative side for three years and in each of those years was awarded the Northern Cricket Union Under 19 Player of the Year trophy. He represented South African Schools, for whom he scored three hundreds. AB finished school at the end of 2002 and is presently studying at the University of Pretoria. de Villiers is a product of the United Cricket Board of South Africa's development programme. He has represented Northerns at all age groups from Under 11's upwards. After playing for South African Schools and SA Colts, he was chosen for South Africa Under 19's for their tour of England in July and August of 2003. In the three Test series, he scored 197 runs in five innings, including 99 in the second Test at New Road, Worcester. In the One Day International Series that followed, he scored 143 in the first match at Arundel, and followed this up with 60 in the second match at Hove, which was televised live on Sky. AB won the Player of the Series Award.

In December 2003 - January 2004, AB finished his Under 19 international career by representing South Africa in the Commonwealth Under 19 Championships, held in India. South Africa won the tournament, with AB their batting star. On the way to the final he contributed scores of 65, 38, 25 and 75 not out. In the final itself he scored a magnificent 193 off just 143 deliveries. Understandibly, he won both the Man of the Match and Player of the Tournament Awards.

With such impressive credentials, Carrickfergus Cricket Club looks forward with anticipation to welcoming AB de Villiers as its overseas professional for the 2004 season.

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