South Africa news August 27, 2013

Du Plessis targets more ODI runs


Faf du Plessis has admitted that his ODI form must improve if he hopes to take over as the ODI captain in the future. Du Plessis already leads South Africa's Twenty20 side, and has been widely tipped to eventually succeed AB de Villiers, who has been burdened with the role of skipper, senior batsman and wicket-keeper. However, du Plessis does not see himself as a suitable candidate just yet.

"My performances need to be better if I want to be considered as ODI captain. In Sri Lanka, I was under pressure to score runs and I knew that," he told ESPNcricinfo.

In the last 12 months, Du Plessis has managed only two half-centuries in the 21 matches he has played - an unbeaten 62 against Netherlands in May, and a 72-ball 57 against New Zealand in January.

His lean patch extended to the shortest format of the game as well, but du Plessis ended the drought with an assured 85 in the last T20 on South Africa's tour of Sri Lanka last month. "It meant a lot for me to score runs in that last T20," he said. "I needed them badly."

His own showings aside, du Plessis achieved something bigger when he became the first captain to take South Africa to a series win in Sri Lanka. After a below-par ODI showing in which they were defeated 4-1, South Africa clinched the three-match T20 series 2-1. A notable difference in the two series was in the leadership. While de Villiers struggled in his decision-making and was often behind the over-rate, du Plessis made crucial bowling and fielding changes, appeared in control most of the time, and admitted that he was enjoying his job.

"I love captaining and adding value in that way," he said. "I like giving the talks that a captain gives and dealing with the high pressure times. I even like taking the flak of making decision myself, like when it comes to bowling changes. The captain needs to make tough decisions and I don't mind making them."

Du Plessis was a captain at school level and occasionally in the domestic set-up. So despite his relatively young age when he was promoted to T20 captain in November last year, he was deemed to have had the required skills to cut it at the top. He had only played four T20s when he was handed the role, but immediately set about trying to establish a style of leadership and earn the confidence of his team.

"If you're honest with players, they respect you," he said. "Everybody knew we were experimenting a bit and we will try a experiment a little more because we need have our best combinations." The World T20 and 2015 World Cup are only six and 18 months away respectively, but South Africa are still toying with new combinations and strategies under the new coach Russell Domingo.

Through the process of settling on a line-up, du Plessis is hopeful that his own ODI showings will get better, if only because he will have some stability to get into a rhythm. Currently, he has been stationed at No.4 in the line-up, between JP Duminy and de Villiers, and Domingo has indicated he will keep those positions, even as Jacques Kallis makes himself available for more ODI cricket.

Du Plessis, for one, can see the benefit of a definite plan. "It's nice to have a more stable role because before I was batting everywhere and now I am able to get used to a role," he said. The only person du Plessis thinks can float is de Villiers who he said "has to bat at the most crucial part of the game," because "he is just the best in every situation."

With de Villiers identified as South Africa's gun player, it would not be too surprising to see him relieved of the extra duty of leading in the near future, although du Plessis would not be drawn on how his long-time friend feels about leadership. "AB and I are different captains and we use each other, when it comes to discussing things. I'd love to captain the ODI side but I know it's not going to happen at the moment," he said. "The captain needs to be the first name on the team sheet, so I have to make sure I am there."

A format du Plessis feels he does not have to worry about his place in is the longest one, which South Africa will resume with two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE in October. After his match-saving hundred in Adelaide against Australia last November, du Plessis thinks he has "done enough," to be a certainty in the starting XI despite JP Duminy, the man who du Plessis replaced, returning to fitness.

Duminy has made a full recovery after rupturing his Achilles' on the tour Down Under, and has been reintroduced into first-class cricket through South Africa A in order to force a Test comeback. He was the top-scorer in last week's unofficial Test against India A and also contributed with three wickets, to show his value as an all-rounder.

Du Plessis expects Duminy to make a comeback, but not at his own expense. "JP has done brilliantly since coming back and having him in the team only makes it stronger," he said. "He would slot right back in."

That implies Dean Elgar, who has played in six Tests since Perth last year, would find himself out in the cold. "But if Graeme (Smith) does not recover in time, Dean can just slot in at the top," du Plessis said. Smith is expected to be fit for the series after a lengthy time out of action with an ankle problem but if there is a setback in his rehabilitation, South Africa may have to turn to Elgar, who is an opener by trade.

There's no doubt that the management will do everything they can to ensure Smith is part of the squad, as South Africa will play the Tests in conditions that have already got the better of England. Although South Africa beat Pakistan 3-0 at home earlier this year, du Plessis expects the going to be much tougher in the Emirates.

"You just have to look at England and how easily they were beaten to know it won't be easy," he said. "Spin will obviously be the biggest challenge and that's what we will be working on."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shahzad on August 30, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    Ab batting avg as a cptn 65 in odis.. wow gr8... what should you want more then that... Faf du Plessis has chosen to play for CSK instead of Titans....yet he didn't play a single game in IPL this year. Would make more sense to have Faf play for Titans where at least he will get game time. Wonder if this is his way of making money for the Titans (the $150k payoff). He never deserve to be a cptn of south africa...

  • Mark on August 29, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    Faf is a strong leader and has talent as a batsman and is a very good fielder. AB is burdened by the captaincy and it is affecting his batting. He should go down as on of the SA all time greats..but needs to concentrate on his batting. He is not a good captain either. We have to remember that being a good player, does not make you a good captain, just as being a good leader, does not make you a good captain. You need to be a good strategist and cricket thinker on top of this. You need imagination and be calm under fire. Sadly this does not happen overnight nor does making a judgement on a player. If people discarded Steyn or Warne due to their early career stats, we would have lost out on two historic bowlers.So it is a fine lie for the selectors to see that something extra, despite the stats..

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 21:36 GMT

    I do not really care about Du Plessis' ODI form. It is more important that he gets this notion of ODI captain clear out of his head and concentrate on his form in the longer version of the game. He is far to insecure as a ODI batsman even to think about captaincy! I was really unhappy when he laughed and enjoyed the moment when he bluffed the umpire not to give him out in one of the Pakistan tests earlier this year. A captain or senior player simply does not do these kind of things. A long way for him to go to become an elder statesman in the game.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Amla and AB have been holding our ODI side together for some time now. When they fail we fail miserably. We need to consider Duminy as the fifth bowler and go in with 7 batsmen as we just don't have the runs to be competitive. McLaren and Wiese just don't look the part when it comes to batting under pressure. Perhaps they should be considered at 8 and 9 to give us more batting depth.

  • John on August 28, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    Neither Faf nor AB have shown great captaincy. Faf has not even really done enough to justify his position as a permanent fixture in the team. The problem is that SA is churning out a lot of average multi format players - like Faf - instead of great players like Kallis. It seems that there are many glimpses of talent in the domestic teams but not enough vision or conviction to transform such players into anything more than underachieving could-have-beens. Tha't's why SA will soon fade from the top rankings in cricket.

  • Shahzad on August 28, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    Faf du Plessis never deserve captancy.... AB is the best suitable cptn till wc 2015... if u want to change the G.Smith is the best choice.... Du Plessis played 42 odi & avg just 27...

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    totally overrated he just rated because of one innings in Australia that saved match he is never a ODI player i never saw him, winning a odi match for his side AB, JPD, Steyn , Amla are good captain materials than this guy SA didn't considered Kallis as captain, and now they are doing same for JPD what a shame

  • Harjinder on August 27, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    FAf is batter and much batter than AB as captain .Faf does take bold decision when it needs....

  • R on August 27, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    Forget captaining the side... du Plessis hasn't done anything to guarantee selection in the ODI side... If Kallis returns, there is no way du Plessis is going to make it to the final XI... Even without Kallis, it'll be a fight between him and Ingram when Smith returns, and on unbiased statistics Ingram is ahead!!!

  • Shoaib on August 27, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    Overrated player! has potential but potential alone is nothing great!

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