Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Veteran Proteas batsman, Faf du Plessis wants to help groom the next leadership group for South African cricket, saying it was one of his key missions for next season.
The 35-year-old stepped down as captain of the national team in February after nearly four years at the helm, with his successor in Test cricket yet to be named. Quinton de Kock was named as his limited overs successor, taking charge over the summer in recent series against England and Australia. With cricket and all sport globally, currently side-lined due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it means that South Africa also has more time to carefully consider their new red-ball leader.
In a wide-ranging interview, Du Plessis says that whoever that player and the leadership group in general is, he wants to assist them settle in so that the next generation of leaders are given the best possible chance of success.
“I will miss the captaincy, but now I need to move on to try and add value to help create new leaders,” Du Plessis said. “This is something I’ve looked at as my real purpose for next year.
“I think leadership is something we need to place some emphasis on in South African cricket and again, it’s an area I want to help in.”
Du Plessis also reiterated his desire to play for the Proteas, saying that he is already missing everything about the game at a time when sport has taken a back seat in favour of health.
“I still love playing for the Proteas, I still love being involved with a Proteas,” he explained. “I still see myself adding huge value. I’m still extremely motivated and keen to play for the Proteas in all three formats, so the hunger is there and I’m looking forward to it next season.”
The past season for Du Plessis, who was in charge from 2016, did not go as planned after the Proteas were knocked out early in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and then struggled in Test series against India and England with a team that featured a lot more youth than experience.
He admits it was a tough mental period.
“The season gone by is probably been up there with one of the toughest I’ve had to face over my career,” the 65-Test veteran stated. “Because it had a lot of different elements to it that were not just about cricket.
“Obviously it started with the World Cup being a very tough an emotional roller coaster for a lot of us, not just me… there were a lot of emotions that we went through and that was really tough.
“We went from there to India, which I knew would be a really tough tour for us as a team and a real big challenge for me to get through as a leader as well, but I was very optimistic. Obviously, the tour didn’t go as well as we would have liked, we didn’t play particularly good cricket, even though things started very well in that first Test. I learnt a lot from the tour about where we were as a Test team. Then it was a case of how we can move forward.”
Du Plessis believes that a lack of experience was South Africa’s biggest hurdle, but he believes that now that the team has been given a sound backroom staff in place, they will be better placed for the future.
“The one thing that was obvious for me was we couldn’t replace experience overnight,” he continued. “It was going to take some time. We also felt we needed to get some experience into our coaching staff. Enoch (Nkwe as interim Team Director during the tour to India) did a great job in India, but we felt that because we lacked for the first time in a long time experience in the team, we needed to fill that gap from an experience point of view with the coaches, so there was some good moves made with the coaching staff before England.
“Again, we started well in the England series and the we fell away. Again, experience played a big role and that’s where we fell short.
“Looking forward now, I think we’re in a position where I think we will start producing again. There are strong people in charge, plenty of experience and I think that will help South African cricket going forward.”