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Firdose Moonda in Perth
December 4, 2012
South African fans back home will have to wait a while before they can welcome their No.1 Test team, in its complete form. The team will arrive in the country in two groups - the first lot touched down on Tuesday morning and included mostly team management. The second lot will arrive on Wednesday and two of the heroes of the tour, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn, will only get back at the weekend.
The pair are staying in Australia to play one match each in the Big Bash League, with Steyn due to turn out for Brisbane Heat on Sunday and du Plessis to represent Melbourne Renegades in the opening match on Friday. It may seem an unnecessary extension of what South African players have regularly been calling a long year, but there is a reason behind it.
"I would love to go home tonight with the team but I am staying for one more game," du Plessis said, while bags were being packed around him at the team's Perth hotel. "There's not a lot of meaning in one game and some people will say it's not the right thing to do but they are trying to get a few guys involved if they do qualify for the Champions League and if I don't qualify for other teams."
Du Plessis could also represent Chennai Super Kings or Titans as he takes his tally of T20 teams to three. He is particularly looking forward to participating in an Australian competition as he would not normally get the opportunity to do that and hopes it will increase his stature even further.
"I'd like to grow my profile in international tournaments," du Plessis said. "I think the only reason I would be able to play in this Big Bash is because we are here in Australia, the timings would have never worked if I was in South Africa. So I thought while I am here, one game is perfect because its straight after the Test matches and it still gives me time to go back before the next series."
South Africa's next international assignments are home series against New Zealand and Pakistan. They will play three T20s, two Tests and three ODIs against the former starting on December 21, before hosting Misbah-ul-Haq's men for three Tests and five ODIs.
Du Plessis could be playing well before then, though. His domestic franchise, the Titans, are in contention qualify for the one-day cup playoff and if they do, he is aiming to be in the starting XI. "I will play here in Australia on the 7th, fly home 8th and play for the Titans on the 9th. The semi-final for the Titans is a big thing and they would obviously like their national players involved," he said.
If he does play that match, it will be the fans' first glance of him in the flesh since his Test debut but they will have to wait longer to see the Test mace. The South African public have yet to glimpse the cold, hard proof of their No.1 ranking and no festivities with it have taken place yet. After the series win in England which took South Africa to No.1, they played limited-overs' contests followed by the World T20 and so did not have the opportunity to show the accolade off at home. This time, their segmented arrival will result in the same thing.
Almost every member of the squad, particularly the captain Graeme Smith, said they are looking forward to, "playing in front of our home crowds because we love that." South Africa's celebrations on the whole have been quiet, even after beating Australia for a second time in two series at home. Yesterday, they spent time at the ground before heading to the Lucky Shag pub for a few quiet ones.
This morning, Smith was spotted with his young daughter Cadence and wife Morgan on a walk. Also around was AB de Villiers, accompanied by his fiancée Danielle Swart and Rory Kleinveldt, who had his father with him. Perhaps winning away from home has become so much of a norm for South Africa that the need for going over the top in celebration has gone.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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