'Want to get the best of Duminy at No. 4'
Faf Du Plessis, confirmed as South Africa's permanent Test captain ahead of a three-match home series against Sri Lanka, spoke to the media at Newlands about the resources at his disposal for this assignment
Faf du Plessis has already succeeded in one of Test captaincies' toughest tasks and led South Africa to a series win in Australia, but his proper job begins now. Confirmed as South Africa's permanent Test captain ahead of a three-match home series against Sri Lanka, du Plessis spoke to the media at Newlands about the resources at his disposal for this assignment.
The expectation is that this will be a much lower-profile series than Australia. How will you get the team up for their only home matches this summer?
I prepare the team and myself in exactly the same way. There is no big series and no small series. People expect us to beat Sri Lanka, but that's not certain. They have played really good cricket over time. They have also lost some key players, which is something we will make sure we get into. But they are a quality cricket team, they've got exceptional spin bowlers. Hopefully the ball wont turn too much.
There's a returning face in your pace pack - Wayne Parnell. What do you think he will add?
Parnell deserves it. His last Test match was a good Test match and then he got injured. He has been plagued by injuries. It's good to see his hard work has paid off. He brings variety: left-arm seamer who can bowl quick. It's really important that he can bat as well. The more options that you have in a team when you have a longer batting line-up, the better. You saw in Australia now with someone like Keshav Maharaj, a spinner that can bat, how much of a difference it actually makes when your top order doesn't do their jobs on the day.
Home fans are getting used to seeing a new-look pace attack. Last summer you were without Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. This time there's no Morne Morkel. Is there enough firepower on the field?
We are lucky that there are guys who are waiting. Morne is a fantastic Test bowler, you don't have to say anything about him. With injury, it has been difficult for him to get back in. Kyle Abbott has done a fantastic job, but Morne is in the wings and gives us an option if we want to play four seamers. In Port Elizabeth, the wicket doesn't suit that, so we will maybe look at it towards the latter end of the series. But even after that, we need to make sure there are two or three guys who are ready.
You've also got a new top-order batsman in Theunis de Bruyn. What do you think he will gain from this series?
It's sad on Rilee Rossouw's behalf because he has been waiting for his turn for a while now and deserves a chance, but his foot has not completely healed yet. Theunis comes in as the next batter after Rilee and he has done really well for the South African A side. He's got the X-factor, which is something that will fit in nicely. He is also young leader at the Knights, so to come into an environment where he can learn from great leaders means that even if he doesn't play a game, he will go back to the Knights a stronger leader.
Since taking over as captain, you've dropped down to No.5. Is that where you are happy batting?
I am happy wherever the coach puts me. I got a few chirps in Australia, saying I was hiding at No.5, but for me, its about getting the best out of JP Duminy. The way that JP is looking, he looks like the JP we know he can be. I've got the captaincy so I don't need more extra responsibility but it's nice for JP. He has that responsibility and he feels like he needs to go out there and score big hundreds for the team. At No.7, you bat with the tail and you tonk a few and you can get a good ball and that's why Quinton de Kock is perfect for that role. He takes the game away from the opposition. I like that extra responsibility on JP.
Although you won the Australia series, only Quinton de Kock found real consistency among the batsmen. Is that a concern and what do you expect from the rest?
My thing is to make sure the guy who are in form take full responsibility to score runs. It's going to happen that you're going to get out of form and you are going to get good balls, but guys who are batting well at any point in time have to make sure that they score the big runs for the team. If someone like Hashim Amla had a series where he didn't score the runs that he wanted to, for me is not as important as making sure Quinton who was in form cashed in. Temba Bavuma was also consistent. Through the series, we didn't possibly didn't score as many runs as we wanted to but every single Test there was a hundred and that wins you games of cricket.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent