Faf can now focus on his own game, says Graeme Smith
JOHANNESBURG – Graeme Smith hopes that Faf du Plessis can now focus on his own game having been relieved of the burden of captaincy.
Du Plessis announced his resignation as Test and T20 captain on Monday, and later the same day was called into the T20 side for the series against Australia, where he will be an ‘ordinary’ member of the squad that will be led by Quinton de Kock.
“It will be interesting for him. He’s just got to find his space again,” Smith, Cricket SA’s interim Director of Cricket said Tuesday. Smith had some experience of being relieved of the captaincy and becoming an ordinary squad member in the last couple of years of his career in the limited overs formats when AB de Villiers took over. He stressed the importance of Du Plessis continuing to be forthright with teammates and the side’s management.
“These things require honesty within the environment. He and Quinny will need to have a good rapport and the same with Mark (Boucher), so that everyone can make him feel welcome within the space and the environment. The best way to deal with this is to be honest, put your feelings out there and let everyone deal with it.”
Du Plessis’ openness was one of the hallmarks of his captaincy so communicating his feelings and how he views his new status within the team shouldn’t be difficult for him. It will most likely take some of the older team members slightly longer to adjust to having De Kock barking instructions.
For Du Plessis, it’s a case of scoring runs again, having found that difficult in the Test format in the last few months. “One thing we have tried to stress with him through the last few weeks and even again now, is to focus on his own game, become a team man - which he is - and just step away from the need to control everything and the pressure that comes with that.
“He’s had a lot on his shoulders and it has affected him and hopefully this will free him up and he‘ll become a more dynamic player again. His record in white ball cricket is incredible,” Smith added.
Du Plessis was South Africa’s leading scorer in the 50-over format last year and has been one of the country’s best T20 batsmen. The news Tuesday that Temba Bavuma wouldn’t be available for the first T20 International against Australia on Friday, means Du Plessis could find himself opening alongside De Kock at the Wanderers, a position he’s not unfamiliar with having done so for Chennai in the IPL.
Smith, also said Tuesday there wasn’t a pressing need to announce Du Plessis’ successor as Test captain right now, with South Africa only due to play its next Test match in July. “We’ve got some time to make an informed decision.”
He and Cricket SA do have a lot to get through in the next few weeks. Besides the build up to the T20 World Cup, there’s discussions around player contracts and other areas in the game locally that are being reviewed and could require reconstruction.
Talks with players about their availability for the T20 World Cup are also on-going, and a clearer picture is likely to emerge after the IPL and specifically in the series South Africa will play against Sri Lanka in June.@shockerhess