Photo Credit: SA20 League
Faf du Plessis shares a love affair with a few grounds around the world.
There’s, of course, the Adelaide Oval. A venue where Du Plessis left his indelible mark with a match-saving century on Test debut and another sparkling ton under lights against the swinging pink ball when the whole of Australia was questioning the former Protea captain’s character.
But there’s also the Wanderers. A ground that reverberates like no other in South Africa.
It was at the Bullring where Du Plessis blasted his maiden T20I century against the West Indies. And it is here where the Joburg Super Kings captain leapt into the Johannesburg night sky to raise his fist in celebration of the first Betway SA20 individual 100.
“I always feel that you get your energy from your surroundings, situations and atmospheres. If you look at the times of my career when I have celebrated more than usual, it’s been because of the situation,” Du Plessis said to mark the 100-day countdown to Betway SA20 Season 2.
“It is a really proud record for myself, to score a 100 again at the Bullring … being the first to do it in the tournament. It gave me an immense sense of pride.
“I felt that it kickstarted some amazing performances from other batters too. I remember watching Heinrich Klaasen’s 100, and it’s almost since that day his career has gone to another level. That’s the type of confidence it gives our players playing in this tournament.”
Du Plessis scored 113 not out off 58 balls on that balmy Highveld night as the Super Kings successfully chased down their 179-run victory target with five balls to spare. Du Plessis’ innings included eight fours and eight sixes.
But little did we know that the JSK skipper was experiencing severe pain in his elbow, which he has only recently had surgery on.
“I was really struggling with my elbow before that game. I had actually told (JSK batting coach) Albie (Morkel) the night before that I wasn’t sure I was going to get through the game,” Du Plessis said.
“And that’s why it means so much more to me. I always like the innings where I need to find a little bit more character in myself to go that extra mile.”
There is a further side note to the JSK skipper’s century that caused quite a bit of consternation in the Du Plessis family.
En route to his century, Du Plessis had blown his brother-in-law, Durban’s Super Giants fast bowler Hardus Viljoen, for 20 runs in one over before drilling him for a sublime cover drive to the boundary to bring up the milestone.
“I remember taking my brother-in-law (Viljoen) down for 20 runs in an over. It was a tough conversation after the game” Du Plessis chuckled.
“Obviously you care about someone, and you want to ensure their career gets elevated too. Hardus kept trying to bowl short to me, but luckily on the night, it went my way.
“It all clicked during the game. It was one of those innings where you felt everything was just working for you. A lot of the balls were hitting the middle of the bat. And when you are feeling like that, that’s when you feel that you can hit more sixes.”
Du Plessis will again be leading in the Joburg Super Kings’ charge in Betway SA20 Season 2 when they face defending champions, Sunrisers Eastern Cape, at St George’s Park in exactly 100 days’ time on 10 January 2024.