Much was made by Du Plessis prior to the tournament about the players being more relaxed at the World Cup and not treating it as the “be all and end all” of their careers or lives. However, that message did seem to get misinterpreted by some of the players with the defeat in the second match against Bangladesh illustrative of that.
The Proteas returned home yesterday after a disappointing World Cup in which they won just three out of nine matches and were virtually out of contention for the semi-finals by the third week. There had been plenty of talk about the players’ mentality and again their ability to perform under pressure was scrutinised. The team’s coach Ottis Gibson said yesterday he was still bemused about why the side seemingly lacked the mental strength when it mattered in the first few weeks in England and Wales, saying confidence took a hit after the three defeats in the first six days of the tournament.
Du Plessis said he never wanted the players to go onto the field with a relaxed mindset and that a central component of his captaincy is a demand for greater intensity and strong body language. “The context of having a relaxed mindset,” said the South African captain, “was meant to be when there was pressure on us as a team, to not feel overwhelmed by the situation, not look at it as if you’re going to die if you lose a game, don’t put extra pressure on yourself, having such a mindset at a World Cup.
“By no means ever, absolutely never, do we as a team or me as captain go onto the field with a chilled relaxed, let’s just go through the motions, attitude, it doesn’t work like that, that’s not how I captain. My biggest thing is always body language, intensity, that is an absolute non-negotiable.