The time has finally come for me to salute Faf Du Plessis. I am one of those who enjoys seeing new players in a team given a chance to show what they can do. However I am equally judgmental on them until they prove themselves. Du Plessis has my endorsement.
Being a purist, my jury was always going to be out on a man who essentially made South Africa’s national cricket team on the strength of his domestic one day form in the 2010/11 season. In the-then MTN40 he topped the run charts with 567 runs from 10 matches, including three centuries. He went on to make his debut in the home series against India, making 60 in his first innings and he was on the plane to the subcontinent for the World Cup but to me he just looked like a good player without being very good.
Fast forward to the end of 2012 and the Titans batsmen makes his Test debut against Australia in Adelaide. He makes a solid 78 before batting for 466 minutes to save the match with an outstanding 110 not out and the man was on the map. Three Tests later in Port Elizabeth against New Zealand he posts 137 and his “golden boy” status is entrenched.
We have often seen how a player arrives on the international scene and takes full advantage of the lack of knowledge the opposition has on him. However once the honeymoon period ends the player is quickly found out and it is the very good and great players who come out on top a season or so later. Du Plessis does not pass 41 in his next eight innings and only posts more than 30 once in that time and I start to wonder about him.
Next up the man bats for 395 minutes to score 134 against India in Johannesburg in a match the Proteas were trying to save and very nearly won. Four fifties in his next 12 Test innings has left him with superb career figures of three tons and six half-centuries at an average of 52.58. Those are the kinds of numbers you want to be seeing from your number three batsmen.
In ODI’s he has just exploded recently. Since moving up to number three in the original limited overs format he has amassed three centuries and four fifties in 11 innings averaging an amazing 61.27. Moreover these 729 runs in the last 10 months have come with a superb 88.26 strike rate. Is Du Plessis a good player? No way! He is a very good player and while his international career is only three and a half years old, if he keeps up these kinds of numbers South Africa’s T20I captain could even go down as a great player.
The 30-year old plays every shot in the text book, knows how to save his country from certain defeat, builds an innings as well as anyone and can accelerate in devastating fashion when needed. And I have not even started to talk about his fantastic fielding abilities. The man even has a couple of wickets in One Day cricket. Faf Du Plessis is the complete package and South Africa has a player who they can rely on in just about any match situation.