Australia in South Africa 2013-14

'Australia will try and target me'- du Plessis

Firdose Moonda in Johannesburg

February 4, 2014

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Faf du Plessis goes airborne, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 5th day, December 22, 2013
Faf du Plessis will have a Jacques Kallis-sized hole to fill in the upcoming series © Getty Images

Faf du Plessis is bracing himself to be one of the men with a bulls-eye on his back for the upcoming Test series against Australia. With it all but confirmed that du Plessis will bat at No.4, in what used to be Jacques Kallis' spot, he believes that the Australian pack will aim specifically at him because of his new responsibility.

"The one thing the Australians do really well is that target guys," du Plessis said after the first day of South Africa's practice match against a Composite XI. "They will probably target Graeme because he is the captain, and I thought they did that really well with Alastair Cook, and then look at other guys. Like myself. I am going to be a new role so they may want to target that."

Peter Siddle already explained Smith will be one of the pillars they want to send crashing and du Plessis may have given Australia an idea of who the other can be. Their memory of him is of Adelaide, where he batted for almost eight hours and tired their attack, to secure a draw which South Africa described as providing the morale for them to win the series.

Going after a man who showed such defiance may prove difficult, but du Plessis is wary that Australia may aim to do that, in order to try and break South Africa at one of their strongest points. So, he is planning to keep his game plan as "tight," as possible and not to give Australia a sniff that they could use to get through him.

"I am just going to be very patient and wait for mistakes from the bowlers. When you bat up the order you have to stay in your bubble a little bit longer," du Plessis explained. Although he has not batted at No.4 too often for South Africa, on the occasions when he has done it, such as against India at the Wanderers last December, he has gone on to score big. "I think I play at my best when I am being patient," he said.

Du Plessis demonstrated some of that in the tour match. He came in with South Africa stuttering on 46 for 2 and saw them slip into even deeper trouble at 51 for 3. With JP Duminy, he ushered them to some safety. Du Plessis batted for over two hours and faced 83 balls, including some quick ones from Wayne Parnell, to score 36. He enjoyed the battle in challenging conditions.

"The wicket was tough to bat on early on and usually we would not choose to bat first, we'd let our bowlers go in and exploit the conditions but because we're in preparation, we wanted to ourselves," he said. "There was a lot of movement and tennis-ball type bounce."

Later in the afternoon, when the sun came out, batting became easier but this time, du Plessis had not lasted long enough to cash in. He was dismissed when he offered a return catch to offspinner Simon Harmer, and it was up to the tail to take South Africa to 300.

Vernon Philander, in particular, stood out for his ability to bat the team out of trouble at a good rate. "Vernon has been batting beautifully for us for the last year or so. He has really put his peg in the ground as a proper allrounder," du Plessis said. "If you look at all those lower-order guys, they are at their best when they are looking to score. So their job is to be nice and positive."

The batsmen at the bottom could also end up being specific targets, because du Plessis isolated them as having a deciding role to play in this series. "No. 7 to 11 will play a crucial part for both teams," he said. "Australia also bat deep so I think that will play a big role in this series."

His analysis fits in well with the way the contest has been hyped up - as a battle of the bowlers, with all indications suggesting that it will be tough for the batsmen. Du Plessis endorsed that notion, predicting a spicy Centurion pitch for next week's opener. "We've done well at home on wickets that have assisted the bowlers and been quite difficult to bat on, especially with the new ball," du Plessis said. "But if we get a flat wicket, then that could assist Australia, because they are quite attacking in their strokeplay."

SuperSport Park has often given South Africa's quicks exactly what they want and with Dale Steyn ready to fire after a rib injury, there's no reason to believe it won't do so again. Steyn bowled just three overs on the first day of the tour match and will increase his load as game day draws nearer. "Dale was at about 60% today, off half a run-up, just to get back into it," du Plessis said. "You'll see over the next few days, he'll be stepping it up." No doubt, Steyn has his own targets in mind come next Wednesday.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by HarrowXI on (February 6, 2014, 13:09 GMT)

I can see SA win the series easily. Aus is good bowling side but they cant bat. Beating england wont make you good side.

Clerk captaincy and Aus bowler & laughing lehman SA should watch out.

Posted by crcktluver on (February 6, 2014, 11:56 GMT)

I don't know why is he thinking that aussies will target him. Most of their players don't even know you they won't waste their times thinking about you and their problem is south Africas bowling not batting

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (February 6, 2014, 5:38 GMT)

@Shaggy076..fair enough mate! Hope it's a cracker. My old man roots for Johnson ever since he first saw him bowl here in 2008/09, so there is competition even in our family...

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 6, 2014, 0:40 GMT)

@RednWhite Must be nice to support England, the country that never makes excuses!

@Afridibest Lyon will definitely play. If Australia play Pattinson in the first test I'm not even going to bother watching, it'll either be a Pattinson slaughter or Harris will suffer a complete physical breakdown due to being overworked because Pattinson has been simply awful since his return from injury. Been reminding me of old Mitch.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 5, 2014, 20:04 GMT)

Gimmeagreentop; I agree with you but it seems with the so many commenters jumping at shadows ie Clarke, that if an Aussie said what Faf said we would be reading more comments on the aussies talking a big game. It seems our recent achievements are continuously put down and we are wrongly labeled the big talking no talent aussies. I understand you are more knowledgeable and respectful than these commenters. I'm looking forward for the cricket too start and see how we stand up against the #1 team and I'm expecting a very competetive series.

Posted by valvolux on (February 5, 2014, 16:42 GMT)

He will go well at 4, its not like Kallis has ever dominated oz with bat and to be fair, was always fodder for them with ball so nothing really lost. SA should win easily, its just perhaps the last 4 series against oz they should've as well..,,won the two away after oz squandered winning positions in nearly every test...and lost one at home and should've lost the other. South Africa's overall test record in recent years is highly underrated... This is their bogey series, oz at home. If they get over this then finally we can start to talk about the true powerhouse successor to australia, after england and India collapsed under the weight of being on top. SA have too much class in their batting lineup even though the aussie attack is on fire... and their bowling is good enough to rip through the weak Aussie lineup. Will be close as always though...south Africa have always played scared against oz so I hope we can keep that going and sneak a win in!

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 16:10 GMT)

Judging from the typically poor attempts at chest thumping and belittling of the opposition in response to anything positive the aussies say about themselves, id say that the usual south african fear of failure is running wild again.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 15:36 GMT)

You can do it, the whole "non-greedy" cricket loving world supports you!

Posted by Afridibest on (February 5, 2014, 14:35 GMT)

du Plessis's defence is good, i expect All pace attack from australia. johnson,harris,siddle,pattinson. and south africa will have three and half quicks Steyn,philander,morkel, parnell. good luck to both sides.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (February 5, 2014, 13:05 GMT)

The Protea's batsmen will be targeting MJ, Siddle et al. It remains to be seen how badly the Australians are scarred from their hammering in Perth. Should be good.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (February 5, 2014, 13:01 GMT)

I simply cant wait to hear the seemingly endless list of excuses when australia lose. Do you remember them from the last series v SA? Pure gold!

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (February 5, 2014, 12:41 GMT), really? Look I'm not defending the type of "rah-rah my team is best" statement made by Twistedseatbelt but you have to admit there has been trash talk on both sides in the media, although Clarke and Smith were admittedly quite tame. In this article all I see is quotes from Faf about points of his batting technique. He actually pays the Aussies quite a few compliments along the way. Not sure how that is "talking big."

Posted by SA_Scot on (February 5, 2014, 12:38 GMT)

Go for it Faf, I think you will do very well at number 4. For obvious reasons, you will be targeted with *You are nowhere near Kallis*. It's just mind games.

Irrespective of Kallis, you are a very good batsman and will make runs at 4.

Slight tangent, but having followed the match so far between SA and composite 11, I would suggest the following starting line-up for Oz:

Smith Petersen Amla Faf AB De Kock Duminy Petersen Phillander Steyn Morkel

If our 3 pacers can't knock them over, then it must be a slow deck or a spinners deck, in which case we need people to mix up the style of bowling and speed of it. We'll have Robby (Best that we have and he provides confidence as a lower order batter, South Africans need that security!) and Duminy with his improving offies.

If we cant win with that 5 person bowling combo, then I just don't see what better options we have. McLaren, Parnell, Elgar...have not done wonders in the match....Bowing has been fine, but it's the batting at 7!

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 5, 2014, 12:34 GMT)

I'm pretty sure Australia are more worried about every other SA batsman more than Faf. Scores slow, not very dangerous, except if SA have 2 days left to bat out to save the test. Clearly Smith as the captain, and Amla and AB as the best batsmen in the world will be the ones Australia want to get the most. Faf is way down the list. Somewhere between Duminy and Philander.

Posted by JimmySA on (February 5, 2014, 12:23 GMT)

Wow faf, how did you get to that conclusion?

Posted by sachinssnn on (February 5, 2014, 12:17 GMT)

i don't think faf can fill kallis to me he's the greatest all rounder

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 11:47 GMT)

My dear Faf___you seem to have a rather inflated opinion of yourself

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 11:36 GMT)

@Ridaa Gamieldien: Its just mental game i guess. They do it to create some extra pressure. May be they will bring in couple of extra fielders, throw some words when he comes, just to unsettle him a bit.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 5, 2014, 11:02 GMT)

Twistedseatbelt; Seems the only ones talking big are Faf and yourself. I think I heard this the last couple of series we played in South Africa. I'm yet to here any big comments from an Australian on this tour

Posted by AA77 on (February 5, 2014, 10:26 GMT)

faf needs to be selected first

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 10:03 GMT)

Im always confused by this whole "target a batsman" thing do the bowler not try to dismiss all of the opposition batters. or do they just roll their arm over halfheartedly waiting for the target to come in to bat ? it makes no sense

Posted by twistedseatbelt on (February 5, 2014, 8:35 GMT)

The Australians will talk big, play average and lose badly. But it will be close in the first test, because of the Proteas starting slowly as usual. Looking forward to the new allrounder(s) from South Africa, shining with both bat and ball.

Posted by Biggus on (February 5, 2014, 8:33 GMT)

Faf's just another guy to get out, nothing more nor less.

Posted by Mambahunter on (February 5, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

Here is my prediction for the series. SA takes it 2-0. First one rained out with SA slightly having the upperhand. 2nd test SA wins by the a decent margin(5 wickets/100 runs). MJ losing his radar and Steyn/Philander terrorises the ozzy batting line-up in one of the innings. 3rd test much the same as second but margin a bit bigger. Philander taking a 5 for not many in first innigs.

Wink wink, enjoy the series. Who ever bats first in Centurion is gonna need some luck...

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (February 5, 2014, 7:29 GMT)

Keith La Roux... more like when Siddle said it.

Posted by BaasHerman on (February 5, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

@dalboy12 Morkel has bowled quite a few deliveries over 150kph in the local t20 series here.

@chicko1983 Steyn doesn't always bowl for speed. If the conditions are there for swing he takes the speed off the ball and focuses more on bowling swinging deliveries. I do think think Johnson is a bit quicker, just saying that if he wanted to Steyn can average 140 to 145 easily..

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 7:14 GMT)

rickyvoncanterbury. Much like Clarkey saying that the Aus bowlers are the best in the world at the moment hey?

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 7:08 GMT)

Sandeepgla. Has there ever been a strong Indian test team away from home? Saffers nearly pulled off a world record chase against the Indians (1st test) and then they wallpoed the indians in the 2nd test. Where was that close? Or perhaps was that the previous series in SA, when Gary was still in charge of the Indian team?

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 7:00 GMT)

Mmmm...maybe Faf would be better off quietly going about his business.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (February 5, 2014, 6:30 GMT)

Talk about tickets on yourself, yes they will target you when you get in, but there are bigger targets than you.

Posted by PaperCuts223 on (February 5, 2014, 6:17 GMT)

@Jonesy2 Hahahahahaha!!! Yes and if Duminy was not injured in the first test, he would have scored 500+ runs and beak the world record!!

Posted by sandeepgla on (February 5, 2014, 6:14 GMT)

south Africa was given run for there money by weak Indian team so i feel aus will be favavorte to win the series.

Posted by dsig3 on (February 5, 2014, 6:05 GMT)

This guy is a space cadet. Cant wait to face him again. I am guessing he wont be as successfull blocking every ball batting at 4. He is really just a glorified fielder who cant hit the ball off the square. Things are going to end a bit differently this time Faf.

Posted by twomarktwo on (February 5, 2014, 6:03 GMT)

@jonesy2 Surely Australia will be at least slightly bothered about someone who averages 146.5 against Australia in tests?

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 5, 2014, 5:33 GMT)

"Credit has to go to the Australians for talking all day....." A quote from Faff after his mammoth match saving knock in Adelaide.

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 5, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

also if pattinson didn't go down in that Adelaide match du plesses would've been out immediately and Australia would've been up 1-0

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 5, 2014, 5:09 GMT)

no way Australia will be bothered with this guy they will just let him bat he posses no threat, they will be targeting amla most of all, he can expect some jonathan trott treatment.

Posted by DragonCricketer on (February 5, 2014, 4:55 GMT)

Hughes is good for 2 centuries this series.

Posted by dalboy12 on (February 5, 2014, 3:55 GMT)

Mate --- who would want to be a top order batsman in this series. Aussie's are talking up their attack which will fire up the S.Africans. The pitches sound like they are going to be juicy. Sounds like SA has three guys capable of 145 + (Steyn, Morkel and Parnell) and Aussie have at least two (Johnson and Harris) with Johnson capable of 150 +. And of course showing them all that pace isn't everything, it's more about where you put the bowl - is the #1 rated bowler in world cricket at the moment Philander. and those guys Siddle and Watson aren't too bad either. Again I say who would want to be a top-order batsman in this series? They may in for a pounding. On a different note - I hope this is the series where Morkel finds his dark side so to speak. If the SA team has a fired up Morkel bowling fast and aggressively with his height then I think they will take the series.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 3:38 GMT)

If Australia want to win the series its simple that they have to get Mr ab de villiers out cheaply. ..which is very difficult....& if the aussies go for the short stuffs which they did against the English..., the south africans will make them pay for it... and don't underestimate philander he is the wicket taker

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 3:35 GMT)

If Hughes plays - SA need 9 wickets only! Bowled Martin - Caught Guptill ! All the SA bowlers need to do is bowl across his body and he will nick it.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 3:14 GMT)

South Africa will give Aussie a wake up call here. Gonna be a good series though

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 3:04 GMT)

@Lliam. I don't know how you think Hughes is a guaranteed starter for the 1st Test. Why wasn't he in selected in the original touring squad then. He only got in because S.Marsh was ruled out of the tour. I think... The selectors want give Doolan a go first. If he fails the first 2 Tests. Then Hughes will be called upon again.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 2:36 GMT)

Australia has the best record against South Africa than any other team since SA became #1. It's pretty clear that this series is going to be a struggle between the #1 and #2 fast bowling attacks but who will come out on top will be largely who is better on the day - Steyn and Philander versus Harris and the revitalized MJ. South Africa has a better, more established batting lineup while the Aussies have the young guys like Warner and Smith who are improving in leaps and bounds and bring an x-factor to the proceedings. Hughes is all-but guaranteed to start and whether that's good or bad is also a mystery. South Africa rightly starts as favourites but anything can happen here.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2014, 1:56 GMT)

You are a pup for Aussies now - if Smith or De Villiers has said this one could understand you are still learning pal Faf. Long way to go to suite Kallis.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 5, 2014, 1:47 GMT)

He is a batsman batting for the opposition of course he will be targeted like all the other batsman. I would of thought the bowlers will be trying to get every batsman out.

Posted by Scuderi on (February 5, 2014, 0:48 GMT)

@ozcricketwriter how can you say Amla and AB are a class above Clarke? Are saying Clarke is only a B-grade batsman?

It willl be a good series. Losing Kallis will have a bigger effect than South Africa care to admit, they seem to think they wll be just as good without him.

Posted by bzzd on (February 5, 2014, 0:20 GMT)

What is this nonsense about Philander having a horror series in Australia? He played 2 matches. The first he got 0-103 but it was a Brisbane special. No-one was getting any help. The second match he got 4-96(at less than 2 an over) and SA won by more than 300 runs. Aussie fans trying to choke back the fear I guess!

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 4, 2014, 23:09 GMT)

All this talk of difficult pitches is starting to make my mouth water. It's been too long since I've seen a good old fashioned bowling shoot-out.

I think the real truth is that both teams will be targeting each and every player in the opposition. Plans for every batter will already be in place and no-one is going to be able to hide in this series. It's stating the bleeding obvious I suppose, but the team that does the best job of thwarting those bowling plans will be the winner.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 4, 2014, 22:51 GMT)

I'm not looking forward to Watto batting up the order in SA. I have a very good feeling about Hughes, I predicted that the Ashes would be MJ's time and similarly I predict the same for Hughes in this coming series. But no doubt at all this series will have more twists and turns than an inebriated snake without a gps.

Posted by chicko1983 on (February 4, 2014, 22:27 GMT)

Amla is out of form, AB and Steyn both coming off injuries and wont be at 100% until the day before, Smith's hands wincing at the thought of Mitchell Johnson running in again, Faf did alright against one of the weakest Australian teams of the last 30 years, and who is their spinner? Aussies are in form, full of confidence, Warner, Clarke, and The Smith will dominate the SA medium pacers (average speed of Steyn's wickets in his last test innings - 137km/hr, Johnson - 145km/hr after 5 tests). The South Africans are looking to past statistics and records against an Australian team out of form and with no guidance at the top. This is what England did an look how that turned out for them! Aussie to win 2 or 3-0

Posted by dsig3 on (February 4, 2014, 22:24 GMT)

Your not special mate, your no-body really. We will target whoever is in front of us. If we are in your head already that can only be a good thing.

Posted by HatsforBats on (February 4, 2014, 21:55 GMT)

Well Faf, I'm sure the Aus bowlers will be targeting ALL the batsmen, not just you. Hopefully this time we don't lose a bowler and our keeper doesn't have rocks for hands. I don't imagine their individual plans will be as fine tuned as they were for England, but I'm sure the disciplined lines of attack of the last few months won't be forgotten.

If it comes down to lower order runs then Aus have the edge there; thankfully, as we're more likely to need them. Philander is strong with the bat (he probably gets more consistent runs than Johnson these days) but Steyn & Morkel don't offer as much as Siddle & Harris IMO.

Fingers crossed Steyn is fully fit. Fingers crossed he doesn't take too many wickets.

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (February 4, 2014, 21:02 GMT)

Love Faf du Plessis's application in Tests, expecially when the chips are down, however he has far to go before he can be even considered an average player. Good luck!

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 4, 2014, 20:41 GMT)

The difference will be in the batting. Hashim Amla and A B de Villiers are a class above any of the Australian batsmen, while Faf du Plessis has also done pretty well so far. In the bowling stakes, Vernon Philander had a horror series last time these two met and it is only Dale Steyn who has a good recent record versus Australia, giving Australia the clear bowling advantage. Graeme Smith is now a professional captain as his batting doesn't warrant his spot in the side, and Australia realistically will look to target Amla and de Villiers more. Last time in South Africa it was 1-1. Last time in Australia it was 1-0 to South Africa. Australia are doing better now than they were then. This is looking very close.

Posted by bowledout67 on (February 4, 2014, 18:44 GMT)

i Spoke to Dale on the boundary today and he said he'll be ready by Tuesday. hope he fires on all cylinders. Gonna be a fiery series. Go Proteas!!!

Posted by creebo777 on (February 4, 2014, 18:39 GMT)

Yeah faf no jumping around the crease,,walking across your stumps like you do in odis,

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