The Proteas have been heavily reliant on their captain’s runs in the past 12 months as the selectors have experimented with personnel and combinations.
Of the three batsmen who’ve featured most regularly in that period, Du Plessis has been the most consistent. He has scored his runs at an average of 58.62 in the last 12 months, compared to Hashim Amla (41.66) and Quinton de Kock (35.36).
“Any captain carries a lot of responsibility in terms of the runs that they feel they need to score and I’m no different,” Du Plessis said yesterday ahead of the first One-Day International between South Africa and Sri Lanka at the Wanderers today.
“(Virat) Kohli and others play a key role in the batting order and as captain, it’s always a big wicket.
“I enjoy that responsibility, that drives me and motivates me to keep leading from the front.”
Responsibility will be the key word for the home team’s batsmen in this five-match series with Sri Lanka, especially the start thereof with South Africa choosing just five front-line batsmen in the 14-man squad named for the first three ODIs.
South Africa are planning on having JP Duminy join them midway through the series once he’s gotten through another match for the Cape Cobras in the Momentum One-Day Cup.
The left-hander made his return to action on Friday night at Newlands after four months out following shoulder surgery.
However he made little impact on the match, bowling just three overs in which he conceded 18 runs following which he made a two-ball duck with the bat.
“We aren’t worried too much about him scoring runs - just getting confidence in his body again by playing,” Du Plessis explained.
In the meanwhile, the remaining front-line batsmen will carry slightly more responsibility as will the all-rounders – Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius – who will be batting at No6 and No7 in the first few matches of the series.
“It’s not in our long term plans but for now what it does is put some responsibility on the shoulders of the all-rounders to go out there and prove that they can score runs, because as we’ve said all along we want a batting all-rounder to fill that No7 spot,” said Du Plessis.
The skipper recognised that Sri Lanka’s surprising victory in the Test series will have lifted their confidence, making them even more dangerous, and South Africa’s task even harder to beat them, but that ultimately that could be beneficial.
“Sri Lanka are confident at the moment, which will be good for us, because we need some really good games to test ourselves for what will be a power few months.”
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Niroshan Dikwella, Avishka Fernando, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Angelo Perera, Oshada Fernando, Kamindu Mendis, Priyamal Perera, Isuru Udana, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan@shockerhess