Proteas batsman Faf du Plessis is determined to make the vital first-drop position his own, following Jacques Kallis’ retirement from international cricket last month. Du Plessis has scored the majority of his ODI runs coming in at No 5, but showed in Sunday’s 93-run victory over Zimbabwe that he can be the rock to fill the vacant position.
He has played 48 ODIs with an average of 28.31, and has only batted at No 3 eight times, at an average of 32.
‘I have played most of my cricket at five, six and seven but I think if it was up to me I would choose to bat at No 3,’ Du Plessis said. ‘It allows me to play my game plan and it also suits the team as well. I think we have some exciting stroke players and three is a position that gels everyone together. With AB coming in at four, JP at five and David at six, it allows me to set up a good foundation for them.’
The 30-year-old has a clear understanding of his role in the position, and is content with making contributions without the flashy stroke play, but with his solid and sturdy batting.
‘The way I play in T20 cricket is different, I don’t block the ball,’ he said. ‘I try and find out what will be best for the team. My role for No 3 in ODIs is to anchor the innings and to be as solid as possible, which will allow the other guys to play with freedom. If my role was to play with freedom I would do that but my role at the moment is to stay there with the stroke players.’
The Proteas will be hoping to replicate Sunday’s clinical performance in the second ODI on Tuesday, as they continue preparations for the Cricket World Cup.
‘For us it’s important not to focus on the opposition,’ Du Plessis said. ‘We want to be No 1 in the world, we have high standards for ourselves as a group. We are No 1 in Test cricket and we want to get to that top spot in ODIs. To get there it means you have to be as professional as possible at all times; we aren’t taking Zimbabwe lightly at all.’
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images