Faf du Plessis says the Proteas have one more chance to give outgoing stalwarts a proper send off in Saturday’s final World Cup game against Australia. DANIEL GALLAN reports.
Du Plessis was in good spirits when he addressed the media ahead of South Africa’s final World Cup match against Australia at Old Trafford tomorrow.
The Proteas skipper has mostly spoken about his side’s poor performances that have seen them win just two games – against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka – and off field distractions such as AB de Villiers’ last ditch attempt to join the squad and injuries to important fast bowlers.
But today he was all smiles, a contrast to events in March last year when he defused tensions in a Kingsmead stairwell against Australia wearing nothing but a bath towel. Has he thought of that ill-fated series much?
‘Not really,’ Du Plessis said. ‘Apart from me putting a shirt on next time.’
It’s been almost a year and a half since Australian cricket underwent an identity crises following the ball tampering fiasco in Cape Town. Back then, De Villiers was still a Protea and the side were a formidable force. Their opponents were in disarray as David Warner and Steve Smith were banished from the game.
Today, those fortunes have reversed. Australia are top of the World Cup table and have secured a place in the semi-finals. South Africa are out. So is there anything left to play for?
‘It’s a great competition between two fierce nations,’ the Proteas skipper said. ‘We are still going to make sure we give it everything. When the fixture came out we thought this would be a great opportunity for possibly one or two of the teams to play the last game almost like a quarterfinal. But it isn’t the case now.’
That doesn’t mean this dead rubber will be treated as a friendly. JP Duminy and Imran Tahir will play their final ODI game if selected. And their is still unfinished business for some underperforming stars such as Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada who will be hoping to end their World Cup campaign on a high note.
‘There is a lot to play for,’ Du Plessis stressed. ‘The discussions within the team is that there are a few guys signing off after this World Cup. It’s the last time we are together as a unit and no one knows what is going to happen after this tournament. We are making sure we put a lot of pride into that.
‘Playing for your country is always special. Losing a few players that won’t be together with us in the field gives me a lot of pride to play for.’