The South African team heads to England this evening, and will play two warm-up matches before facing the host nation in the tournament opener on May 30.
Du Plessis explained that his main message to the players in the last 18 months has been not to elevate the World Cup, making it the be all and end all of their careers. Previous sides he’d been a part of he felt became weighed down by believing they had to do something extraordinary, because they were suddenly playing in a tournament.
“I think a lot of us, myself included, felt we needed to do more to win a World Cup, something really special,” said Du Plessis on the eve of the squad’s departure. “But our focus this time is that what we’ve been doing during the year is good enough. We are beating teams consistently, and I don't want players to feel like they have to be superman on the day and do a remarkable thing like score 190 or take 7/20. Life doesn’t work like that.”
While there’ll be plenty of hype around the opening match against the high-flying English at The Oval, Du Plessis doesn’t believe the outcome will determine the Proteas’ fate at the tournament.
“In 2015 we didn’t play our best cricket throughout the tournament but we found our mojo towards the end, which is a really good thing to have over a long period of time. We played our best game when we smoked Sri Lanka in the quarter-final. And then in the semi-final we played really good cricket but a better team on the day beat us."
Du Plessis feels his Indian Premier League experience will stand him in good stead in terms of managing the side over the course of lengthy period, where they will face many ups and downs. “Obviously you want a fairy tale start, but if you lose one game ... it’s a seven-week tournament. It’s not about how you get to the semifinal, it’s about getting to the semi.”@shockerhess