Given all the off-field distractions over the past week, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis ranks his hundred on day one at Adelaide as the best of his six.
‘I’m just pretty proud. It was a big day for me to stand up as a captain and make sure I led from the front,’ he said. ‘To get through all of that and this week in the manner that I did today makes me really proud.’
Du Plessis was not only fined for ‘ball-tampering’, by using mint-flavoured spittle to shine the ball, but he was an unwitting victim of an unseemly spat at Adelaide airport when he was harassed by a a persistent reporter.
He was roundly booed when he made his way to the middle with the Proteas on 44-3
‘I was expecting a little bit of hostility but not to that extent,’ he said. ‘To be really honest, when I got to 100 I wasn’t expecting to still get booed so that was disappointing.’
But it merely served to give him extra incentive, he said: ‘I was really motivated before today. I felt it was a character test and the only way I could do it is by scoring runs but it did help a little bit. Maybe 5%.’
‘I have never been that switched on. Every ball I said to myself, ”that is not enough. I want to get a big one here”. I was just more motivated than I have ever been,’ he said. ‘Surprisingly, technically I was the best I have been this series as well.’
On the declaration, which has annoyed Australia, he said merely that ‘The position of the game was that it was time for us to declare. We were trying to get some wickets. I don’t think we would have declared if we were seven down in the last hour of the night.
‘It isn’t a massive score but the statistics of the pink ball says it may not generally be a five-day game. It speeds up a little because there is a lot more action on the ball … 250 is perhaps 350 with the red ball.’
The timing of the declaration was hotly debated because it prevented David Warner from opening as he had spent time off the field for treatment on his shoulder. Du Plessis overheard a conversation between Australia captain Steve Smith and the umpires, in which it was mentioned that Warner had to spend another six minutes on the field before he could bat.
‘I listened to the conversation he had with the umpires, one ear talking to the batter and one ear listening to him and then I heard he had six minutes left before he could bat again so I thought ”let’s have a crack”,’ Du Plessis said.
Australian pace bowler Josh Hazlewood admitted that ‘The guys were a little bit annoyed, especially Smithy and probably Uzzy [Usman Khawaja] who had to go out and bat, but it’s just one of those things.’
He confessed that Australia had no grounds for complaint: ‘You know the rules and he was just off the field for too long. He’ll hold himself accountable, that’s how Davey goes, so he’ll know he did the wrong thing, apologise to the group and especially Usman, and he’ll learn from it.’
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