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Faf du Plessis points to CSA's 'unrealistic expectation' for not playing for South Africa anymore

On T10 cricket: "It's completely different than I thought. I think you're never too old to learn, so that's been brilliant"

Aadam Patel
When Faf du Plessis retired from Test cricket earlier this year, he said that he was "making T20 cricket the priority in the short-term". There were T20 World Cups scheduled in 2021 and 2022 - his mind was made up. But he wasn't part of the 2021 T20 World Cup squad, named in September.
As if to make a point, he hit 84 off 54 balls in the CPL for St Lucia Kings two days after the squad had been named and, not long after, finished the IPL - played in the same neck of the woods as the World Cup - with a magnificent 86 off 59 balls in Chennai Super Kings' triumph in the final. He ended the competition as the second-highest scorer with 633 runs.
In case anyone has been wondering what could have been, du Plessis is "on a different journey now", so it doesn't matter.
"Last year, when I played for South Africa against England in the series there, the plan was still very much to play in the World Cup. And the talks were that leading up to that. But at that time, it was just really difficult for Cricket South Africa and myself to find something that allows me to still play overseas," du Plessis explained to ESPNcricinfo. "Because that was the reason why I obviously retired from Test cricket especially. So they tried to, but we couldn't find a middle ground and I think they wanted people that are available all the time. That made it a challenge for the guys like myself and Imran Tahir, because we were playing overseas [franchise leagues] as well.
"So I think that's the challenge now, because we are playing overseas, if they don't want us to play all the games, it's probably an unrealistic expectation."
Nevertheless, du Plessis feels fit and in the mood to play as much cricket as possible, even if it's restricted to short-format, franchise cricket.
"I still feel physically like I'm in a really good condition to play for however long I want to play for, so I'm fortunate that physically I can do that," he said. "For me, age doesn't really matter, like it would for someone else maybe. So it's the mental freshness and the motivation that becomes the two challenges for me. And I'm still very motivated."
After winning the IPL with the Super Kings in the UAE, du Plessis is back in the region captaining Bangla Tigers in the Abu Dhabi T10 competition. The Tigers are through to the playoffs already, and du Plessis is enjoying leading the likes of James Faulkner, Johnson Charles and Mohammad Amir.
He has enjoyed playing the super-short format too, but the speed of the action has taken du Plessis by surprise. After a poor start with a hat-trick of single-figure scores, his last two innings have been 26 off 16 and 22* off eight.
"It's completely different than I thought," he said. "I would think that, in a game like this, you still feel like you have time as a batter, but it feels so quick. So it's been great for me to learn a little bit. I think you're never too old to learn so that's been brilliant.
"Normally, as an opening batter, you've got a bit of time and the first two overs of the powerplay to have a look, but it's exactly the opposite in T10 cricket. You almost have no time in the first two overs of the powerplay because you have to maximise the way that you play. So we've actually just adjusted our tactical approach a little bit, to send the boys upfront that are just full and swinging as hard as they can, to try and maximise those first two or three hours."

Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter. @aadamp9