DURBAN – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis returns to a place that holds some very special memories for him this week, with his side in Adelaide for the second one-day international against Australia.
The South Africans lead the three-match joust after an impressive start in Perth, and will be trying to secure another series win over their rivals at the earliest opportunity.
For Du Plessis, the return to the picturesque geround for Friday’s second ODI will have added significance, as there have been some serious personal milestones there.
His Test debut might seem a long time ago, but his 376-ball knock saw South Africa hang on for a tense draw and secure the Test series when he first went to Adelaide.
Immediately he made a name for himself as a player capable of shutting off everything else and playing each ball on its merits.
That resolute mindset came in handy two years ago, as he returned to South Australia as the pantomime villain in a ball-tampering scandal.
The Proteas skipper had been accused of using mints to help shine the ball during the Test series, and the Australian media was all over him.
A picture of him walking through the airport, sunglasses on and mint firmly in cheek, is a vivid reminder of the hysteria caused by Du Plessis.
He went to Adelaide as a marked man, and the Proteas formed a laager around him, at least until the day-night Test began. There, Du Plessis let his bat do the talking, even as he arrived at the crease to a chorus of boos.
He made a belligerent, undefeated century, and celebrated with gusto.
To say that he can take the heat is an understatement, and Adelaide knows better than most just how much pressure the South African captain can soak up – and still perform.
Having played with the scrutiny of being a debutant, in a crucial game, and then the added strain of a major controversy hanging over his head, Du Plessis could be excused for feeling a bit unnerved by the low-key nature that this week will likely be for him.
The obligatory captain’s press conference ahead of the game will come, but the spotlight is pointed well away from him this time.
The Aussie media have bigger problems, with their own team now dealing with the ramifications of a ball-tampering scandal that refuses to die down.
The actual cricket has not been pretty either, as they were easily dismantled by the SA attack on Sunday.
They have issues far bigger than the whims of the visiting captain being back at a place he holds dear.
Heck, Du Plessis may even have the freedom to go out and smell the roses around the city this time.
He holds an enviable record in Adelaide, with two contrasting centuries to his name.
Come Friday, it would come as little surprise to the cricket aficionados of Adelaide to learn that Francois du Plessis has marked his latest visit with yet another international ton. After all, he scores one every time he is in town.
* The second ODI between Australia and South Africa will be on Friday, starting at 5.20am SA time. Coverage will be live on SuperSport 2.@whamzam17