Faf du Plessis’ contributions against Sri Lanka put to be any suggestion that he is no longer an influential player.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Du Plessis has given up the captaincy gig, after a few torturous years in the position and it’s not hard to see why he would want to take a step back.
Often copping the flack for others mistakes and boardroom shenanigans, Du Plessis cut a tired figure by the start of the 2019/20 season. He was relieved of the captaincy in all three formats.
So far, Quinton de Kock has taken over although his control of the Test team will not, seemingly, be on a permanent basis. While Du Plessis might be a good candidate to take over in the ultimate format, it would likely take some considerable arm-twisting to get him to sip from that poisoned chalice again.
With current skipper De Kock engaged with his wicketkeeping duties, Du Plessis appeared happy to lend a helping hand to the new captain against Sri Lanka.
Before his match-defining 199, Du Plessis was a presence in the field and even took to shouting recommendations to young quick Lutho Sipamla as the wheels fell off the debutants opening spells.
Of course, any senior player would be expected to do what Du Plessis did at SuperSport Park, but there is an ease to the way he pulls alongside players, encourages and cajoles that shows the team still look to him for leadership, and he provides it in spades.
Du Plessis possesses a charm that is yet to show itself in De Kock, who by all accounts sports great cricket intelligence but isn’t as personable as his successor.
At 36-years-old, Du Plessis has a few years on most of the squad, and while he isn’t old enough to truly be any of their fathers, he is the closest equivalent they will find on a cricket field.
He backed up all his bonus skills with a ‘daddy’ hundred, and even though he will be gutted to miss out on a first Test double-ton, he proved he has plenty to give as a player and remains the best middle-order Test batsman currently available to the Proteas.
Long may he continue to both encourage, soothe and perform because the young Proteas need his fatherly presence in their ranks.
Written by James Richardson.