Champions Trophy 2017 June 12, 2017

'There's no one in South Africa better than these guys' - du Plessis


Faf du Plessis was involved in two run-outs in the match against India on Sunday © Getty Images

South Africa's Champions Trophy exit has caused them less grief than their 2015 World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand because, rather than dominate the pool stage, they stumbled through in the ongoing tournament. Faf du Plessis, South Africa's Test and T20 captain and the man involved in two run-outs in the must-win match against India on Sunday, admitted South Africa were below-par throughout their group games and could not realistically have expected to win the event.

"In 2015, I sat afterwards and I was extremely disappointed. It was the lowest point of my career because I felt that was our time to win a tournament. We played a good game of cricket that night. We were right in it until the end," du Plessis said on Sunday evening. "Today, I don't feel the same. I just feel extremely disappointed with the way we played. We didn't pitch up as a team."

Du Plessis does not think South Africa's collective disappearing act necessitates changes in personnel and expressed confidence in the squad that represented the country at this event. "These are the players. There's not anyone else in South Africa that's better than the guys right here," he said.

He also backed his captain AB de Villiers despite increasing public opinion that a change in leadership could be the key to changing South Africa's major-tournament fortunes.

"It's so hard to put all this pressure on AB and almost blame him. I can certainly tell you he has led the team really well, he has done everything," du Plessis said. "The team let him down. I ran him out. There's nothing that he did wrong today. We were beaten, not even by a better team; we just played our worst game of cricket in a while. Every guy in his role in the team must take responsibility for not fulfilling his job today."

Unlike de Villiers, who said he had no answer for South Africa's lapses under pressure, du Plessis repeatedly pointed to a dereliction of duty - not just against India but in the tournament as a whole - as the reason for their failure this time.

"It's just the way we played in this tournament. I don't think it was just today. The game against Pakistan was a very inconsistent performance as well. [Against] Sri Lanka - one or two guys put their hands up but it wasn't a great game of cricket. All in all, it hasn't been a good tournament for us," du Plessis said.

"It's just personal performances. The answer lies in there. Every guy has got a job in this team and, generally, when we play well, guys do their jobs very well. If I use an example, [from] the top five in the last year and half, there have been a lot of hundreds. [In] this tournament there hasn't been. I am a No.3 batter, I need to score hundreds. Quinny [de Kock] is an opener, he gets hundreds for a living and all of us are to blame. AB had a quiet tournament but it's the same thing. All of us need to do our jobs and if we don't, we can't expect to win trophies. It's as simple as that. The answers lie in us not doing our jobs consistently."

Hashim Amla scored the only hundred in South Africa's campaign while du Plessis, de Kock and David Miller contributed a half-century each. Against Pakistan and India, the batsmen did not give their attack much to defend but Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel topped South Africa's wicket-charts with five scalps apiece. Still, South Africa's superstars barely shone. The No.1 ranked ODI batsman, de Villiers, scored just 20 runs in the tournament and the top-rated bowler, Kagiso Rabada, took only one wicket. There were dropped catches, misfields and a lethargy South African cricket is not known for, especially in light of their performances over the last few months.

In the lead-up to this tournament, South Africa had won three ODI series in succession, including five-nil triumphs over Australia and Sri Lanka and victory in a decider over New Zealand. They equalled their longest winning streak in that time. But, after that, they went on a break for the IPL, came back and lost to England and crashed out of the Champions Trophy. Though du Plessis did not want to use the time off as an excuse, he recognised that it changed the momentum.

"There was a big break in the last time we were together as a team but that's definitely not an excuse - you should just pick up from where you left. I thought before the tournament we were ready, but the matches in the last three games, [we] have been playing at five or six out of 10 and if you want to win a world trophy you can't be fighting at 50-60%," he said.

As a result, South Africa were undercooked and it cost them dearly. "We made a lot less mistakes during the season. In this competition we were rusty and cold and inconsistent and that's not the team that's been playing through the year," du Plessis said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan21761974 on June 14, 2017, 13:09 GMT

    lets be honest guys the senior players like ab faf or jp needed to step up in the games against Pakistan and India but did not. Domingo must go and so must Niel Mckenzie. SA batting has become too conservative and that is definitely a result of McKenzie's influence. Amla and de kock are normally positive upfront. devilliers should come in at 3 depending on the situation especially when things are going was the case against India, duplesis and devilliers can swap whenever necessary because they both can adjust. SA middle order looks so fragile after the top 4 goes its so sad to see. Klaasen or khun deserves dumminys spot in the team but I guess that's never going to happen. SA bowling looks ok although it looks like opposition are always going to target Parnell.

  • Hoenderhok on June 13, 2017, 13:33 GMT

    AKASHCHANDRAN , don't makes excuses for SA .The point is SA did not win any silver ware in ICC champions since umpteen years, long before the quota system was ever dreamt of. Rabada, Amla, Tahir would never have played for their country if the quota system was not implemented, can you imagine the loss to the cricketing fraternity

  • AKASHCHANDRAN on June 13, 2017, 12:06 GMT

    @HOENDERHOK: Due to quota system, the best South African team is not playing at any time. Quality players would have made it to the team anyway. The issue is if due to poor form you want to drop/rest somebody like Rabada then you cannot replace him with a good prospect like Abbott but with somebody not as good. It is even said that AB Devilliers cannot come back into the Test team unless Duplessis is dropped since Duminy or Bavuma cannot be touched.

  • ScarlettL.Gray on June 13, 2017, 12:04 GMT

    Yes, definitely, South Africa were disappointing in this tournament, but, I'm not hissing disapproval or discontent and I personally accept what Faf has said here. I don't think, in my opinion, it's a problem born out of Transformation or AB (although I would prefer him just to play rather than deal with the dogma of captaincy). I watch them lots on television, and I feel the South Africa team is quite inconsistent in performance in recent years, it does have a few good players and also some"functional" ones annnndddd sometimes the balance of bowlers, batsman and all rounders seems confusing to me.

    A thought that occurred to me (rightly or wrongly, probably the latter :-) ) is that it is a team designed to be competitive, to win more than it loses, which is fine in series but less so in tournaments ... which could possibly highlight the delta between series results and in tournaments.

  •   Rephren ZA on June 13, 2017, 10:32 GMT

    yes Jostian! I watched Domingo laughing and having a chortle with his buddies after our horrific batting. THAT was painful. That guy must GO!!! New coach, new captain I say.

  • Chandru267 on June 13, 2017, 10:18 GMT

    Unfortunately Duminy, Miller, ABD, Rabada were struggling with indifferent form before the tournament and De Cock was returning from an injury. So they looked rusty as a team. May be it is time to bring in change by naming Faf as captain across formats and have a foreign coach who has a say in selections.

  • Jostian on June 13, 2017, 10:02 GMT

    Russel should go, any coach who's standing on the balcony of the team dressing room laughing and dancing while his team is on the verge of a massive defeat (in context of the tournament and game) is just not worth his place, sorry!

  • Hoenderhok on June 13, 2017, 9:40 GMT

    PROTEAS_SUPPORTER, you need to ask yourself 2 questions, when did the ICC champion's game start and when did the quota system start. The best bowlers in the SA side are beneficiaries of the quota system Rabada & Tahir and throw in Amla, one of the top 10 BM in the world. You cannot justify that the quota system is the reason for SA failing. The same players play bilateral series and they more often win.

  •   Rephren ZA on June 13, 2017, 9:37 GMT

    Agreed EZAAD, hopefully one day things will change, but until then, at 2019 WC I do not expect us to get anywhere. If there's a 2021 champions trophy I will expect us to fail there too, and so on. I will continue to enjoy bilateral tournaments and I hope that we play more trilateral tournaments. Perhaps if we played more tournaments even with 3 teams, we'd slowly accumulate BMT as South Africans? Who knows? Regardless, my expectation for CT 2017 was failiure. I was not disappointed. I laughed in fact, knowing I was right the whole time. Same story since I saw donald and klusner run each other out in 1999 I think it was, WC. every...single....time....I'm finally done Proteas, I support you with every breath in me, but I now expect exits at every ICC event.

  • Hoenderhok on June 13, 2017, 9:16 GMT

    Faf has forgotten that India also held the honour of being a No1 ODI side. So stop making comments like "lesser team", defending champions cannot be regarded as minnows. I thought that you will make a good captain, I am now having second doubts.

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