Faf du Plessis landed in Chennai this morning, grateful that the last two months of “boredom” had ended.
Weeks of rehabilitation, which involved two-hour sessions in an oxygen tank had taken their toll on Du Plessis, making him a better chef, but also a frustrated cricketer.
“Mentally, maybe I’m feeling too refreshed,” said Du Plessis. “It’s been borderline boredom but it’s just because I haven’t been home for ages, so it feels weird. I need an away trip.”
Du Plessis’ frustration/boredom has ensured that he’s been kept busy in other parts of the house. “I’ve been taking my cooking at home to a new level.”
He’s been staying away from curry dishes – “I don’t make curry in South Africa because I know we eat that every day in India,” – but Du Plessis expects to be fit to play for his Indian Premier League outfit, the Chennai Super Kings by May 1. He has been on a stringent rehabilitation programme for the last few months, that he hopes will lengthen his career.
“I’ve always had slight back problems, but we’ve had it down as a ‘posh’ problem; we call it the ‘Affies back’ (named after Afrikaans Höer Skool, which Du Plessis attended) because myself AB (de Villiers) and Heino Kuhn, we’ve all suffered exactly the same problem.
“It’s always been a part of my cricket. I just did a lot of physio and then when the amount of cricket increased, the back just got a lot worse and it got to a stage where I was told I had to take a rest, especially with the Champions Trophy coming up.
“If I had gone to the IPL, and made the injury worse and thus missed the Champions Trophy it wouldn’t have been right,” Du Plessis explained.
While the likes of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis have been affored a break due to not participating in the limited overs formats, Du Plessis, who captains the South African T20 side, has been in the one-day team for the last two years and played a critical role last summer as part of the Test team. He is a key component across all three formats.
Cricket South Africa, together with Du Plessis’ IPL side, the Super Kings, have ensured his rehabilitation was concluded in a timely fashion. “They said it was important for me to take a break and have time off because in the last 16 months I haven’t had a gap, even before I started playing Tests I was playing for the SA A side and went on a couple of tours.
“It’s about giving me a break because there is a lot of cricket coming up now. Most guys get a break because they’re not playing all three forms.”
Though he is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Super Kings unit for the remainder of the IPL, Du Plessis feels that even if he doesn’t play, the time spent in the IPL will be beneficial.
“I’m in direct competition with Michael Hussey and if he keeps playing well, then they will stick with him. That will give me extra time to rest my back even more, and on the flip side if I get there and they play me immediately, I would have had some competitive cricket before the Champions Trophy.”
Du Plessis last played for South Africa in the third One-Day International against Pakistan at the Wanderers a month ago, where he made a critical contribution with the bat, making 45 off just 19 balls helping to set up South Africa’s 34-run victory.
Du Plessis will join a host of South Africans playing in the sixth edition of the IPL. His close mate De Villiers is a key component in the Bangalore Royal Challengers side, while Dale Steyn (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Johan Botah (Delhi Daredevils) and Kallis (Kolkota KnightRiders) have been crucial components for their franchises in the lucrative T20 event.
With the Champions League T20 taking place in India this year, Du Plessis hopes that other South Africans are able to tap into the lucrative Indian market.
“Guys like Fudge (Farhaan Behardien) should really have gotten an IPL contract already. I just think it’s because most of the owners don’t get to see them play.
“If the tournament is held in India most of the owners are watching and then guys like Fudge and Aaron Phangiso have a chance to get a contract in the IPL.”
Du Plessis will be back in South Africa after the IPL and he thens head straight to Amsterdam to participate in a training camp set up by Gary Kirsten, which will include matches against the Netherlands national side.
South Africa’s opening game in the Champions Trophy will be against world champions India, in Cardiff on June 6. - The Star