Forget the 'outside noise' Faf focused on scoring runs for South Africa
CAPE TOWN – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis has admitted “my performance needs to up in terms of scoring runs” and more importantly will not be drawn into a personal battle with Temba Bavuma ahead of the third Test against England starting at St George’s Park today.
Du Plessis has been placed under the microscope of late, with the skipper facing heavy criticism for his recent lack of Test runs. It’s been 13 Test innings since Du Plessis last raised his bat for a century and seven since he passed fifty.
But with vice-captain Bavuma being dropped from the Test side for this England series due to lack of performance, the “outside noise” is growing louder that a similar fate should befall Du Plessis.
“You get used to it when you’ve played international cricket for as long as I have” said Du Plessis, who has played 250 matches for the Proteas. “It comes with media for you and media against you.
“It’s really important for any player not to get sucked into it too much. The difference between players who played for a short time and a long time is how they cope with the pressures that come with it.
“I’m not getting into a battle between myself and Temba as to who plays and who doesn’t. My performance needs to up in terms of scoring runs.
“Temba has been put in a position where he needs to score runs to get back into the team and if he does that he will.”
The cloud called Bavuma has been hanging over the Proteas throughout this England series ever since the Highveld Lions batsman was dropped for the second Test at Newlands despite recovering from injury.
Du Plessis is adamant that his team is firmly focused on putting the New Year Test defeat behind them and are working hard on restoring their series lead. Equally, he has stated that the group remains fully committed to the team’s cause and ambitions.
“We are as close as we have been before. There is a real direction and purpose for this team. The outside noise will always be there. It’s almost like a good story to read that it’s not going well and there are a few things going wrong in the camp, which they are not. There are no issues. The team is going well,” Du Plessis said.
Instead of pouring energy into team dynamics, Du Plessis has some pertinent selection questions. The final XI has not been settled on as yet with the skipper revealing that Cape Cobras seamer Dane Paterson is being considered for a Test debut at St George’s Park.
“We are considering the possibility of looking at someone like Dane Paterson,” he said. “But we have not decided that yet. Obviously for who would be the big question we need to answer. That we will decide this afternoon, if he does come in.
“It’s about the nature of the ground, conditions here and style of bowling that can work at St George’s. But if you do that (play Paterson) you are going in with one less batter or no spinner.
“And there is merit for having both. You need a spinner at St George’s and you also need a long batting line-up, so it is not an easy decision. It is something that we are talking about as an option on the table.”
England, meanwhile, are much clearer in their thinking at the moment with captain Joe Root stating that the tourists will definitely play a spinner and that it will come down to a shootout between Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and all-rounder Chris Woakes to replace the injured James Anderson.
The likely teams are:
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt) Dean Elgar Pieter Malan Zubayr Hamza Rassie van der Dussen Quinton de Kock Vernon Philander Dwaine Pretorius/Dane Paterson Keshav Maharaj Kagiso Rabada Anrich Nortje
England: Joe Root (capt) Zak Crawley Dom Sibley Joe Denly Ben Stokes Ollie Pope Jos Buttler Sam Curran Dom Bess Stuart Broad Jofra Archer/Mark Wood/Chris Woakes
Umpires: Rod Tucker (Aus) Bruce Oxenford (Aus)
TV umpire: Joel Wilson (WI)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zim)
Scheduled start: 10am (Live on SS2/CSN from 9am)@ZaahierAdams