• Faf: The team needed me to be strong

    Former Proteas captain Faf du Plessis has reflected on ‘one of the toughest’ seasons of a lengthy professional career.

    The 2019-20 season included a disappointing World Cup campaign for the Proteas, who won just three matches and finished in seventh position. Only Bangladesh, the West Indies and Afghanistan ended lower in the 10-team standings.

    South Africa then suffered a Test-series drubbing at the hands of India, before losing again to England. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock later succeeded Du Plessis as T20 and ODI captain. A new Test captain hasn’t yet been appointed, but it won’t be De Kock, according to Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith.

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    ‘The season gone by has probably been one of the toughest I’ve had to face over my career. It had a lot of different elements to it that was not just about cricket,’ said Du Plessis.

    ‘Obviously, it started with the World Cup being a tough rollercoaster, not just for me. There were a lot of emotions that went through that. From the United Kingdom, we went to India, which I knew would be really tough for the team and me as a leader as well. But I was very optimistic for the big task. I was up for the fight.

    ‘I knew the team needed me to be strong in leading them into that India series, as tough as it was going to be. The tour didn’t go as well as we would have liked. We didn’t play particularly well. The sheer amount of pressure India put on us took us to a breaking point a lot sooner than I would have liked. We were way behind where we needed to be. We had a lot of holes.’

    Former head coach Ottis Gibson has since been replaced by new team director Mark Boucher and erstwhile all-rounder Jacques Kallis has joined the Proteas’ coaching staff.

    Mark Boucher
    Mark Boucher

    ‘We couldn’t replace experience overnight and myself and the senior guys felt we needed to get some experience into the coaching staff,’ added Du Plessis.

    ‘To get Kallis and Boucher in was really good, in terms of an experience point of view. To get Graeme in as director of cricket and acting chief executive officer Jacques Faul in, also, made a lot of sense experience-wise.’

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    Du Plessis was scheduled to join the Chennai Super Kings for the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League this month. The tournament, however, has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Proteas teammates Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi, too, are part of the Super Kings’ squad.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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