Not many young cricketers around the world will have the honour of saying that they were widely believed to be the next coming of AB De Villiers. Fewer still will have the ability to actually live up to that tag. But Dewald Brevis, known to some as ‘Baby AB’, has certainly not let the pressure and expectations associated with such a reputation overwhelm him so far. It is only a young career and it is something that could cause distress during bad patches, but for now, a cricket viewer must just lick their lips at the talent of this prospect.
The rise to fame started when videos of him batting for his domestic academy side Titans when viral. It is a fairly well-trodden path, with Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock recent starts to have come through the Titans Cubs side and into the domestic Titans team before going onto play for South Africa. But Brevis may be even better than those who have come before.
Brevis’ performance during ‘Cubs Week’, a week-long domestic academy competition took the internet by storm as his shots not only replicated the batting style of de Villiers, but also the fearlessness and x-factor that AB brought to the game. While it is important to note that many young talents have dominated club bowling and struggled at higher levels, that day left little doubt in South African cricket that Brevis was a prospect worth investing in.
Ironically, a few months later de Villiers visited Brevis’ school, or perhaps more accurately, de Villiers visited his own alma mater. That moment brought the first interaction between the two and Brevis himself admitted that he couldn’t control his emotions when he met his idol. Brevis shared an anecdote that he and his brother would watch every Royal Challengers Bangalore game and had seen many of de Villiers most swashbuckling knocks.
That moment also saw the start of a closer relationship between the two. In the lead up to the current U-19 World Cup in West Indies, de Villiers has been working closely with Brevis as a mentor to pass on the valuable wisdom that he gained from a legendary career, but also help Brevis improve his game and make the most of the great gifts he possesses.
This hard work has borne fruit for Brevis. In the U-19 World Cup he led the way for the Proteas with scores of 65 against India, 104 against Uganda, 96 against Ireland and a lone-hand 97 against England in a losing effort in the quarterfinals. Brevis became the only player after Shubman Gill to score four consecutive 50+ scores at the U-19 World Cup level and with a bit more luck he could’ve easily had three centuries in just four games. But beyond the sheer number of runs that Brevis has scored, his composure and sheer skill have stood out.
South Africa’s opening partnership averaged less than 20 runs in the tournament, and as such Brevis has found himself at the crease early on more than once. This situation hasn’t fazed him at all as he is prepared to play slowly and patiently at the start. In the quarterfinal, he had scored 17 runs off 36 balls at one stage, but his ability to accelerate meant that this was no issue. And when he hits sixes he certainly does justice to the great de Villiers’ with Brevis almost perfectly replicating the sort of jaw-dropping shots that the cricketing world was entertained by during de Villiers’ career.
Brevis has ambitions to play in the IPL and many are calling for him to be fast-tracked into the limited-overs side for South Africa. However, it is important that Brevis continues to stay hungry to improve and ensure he builds his own reputation rather than try to live up to the expectations of de Villiers. But it is does look certain that South Africa has a serious prospect in Dewald Brevis.
Main photo from Getty Images.