Nothing hurts in life, nothing really as much than being done in by your own people whom you’ve served for quite some time, and not to forget, with much loyalty. When he was made the captain of the Proteas line-up, Faf du Plessis, it ought to be reminded, served a bastion of excellence that’s the Proteas cricket team with ceaseless grit and unwavering excellence.
Forget the runs for he had to make them and made dollops of them. Forget even the pressure he was amid, which truth be told, was unforgiving with having to lead South Africa in the post-De Villiers, Steyn, Morkel and Amla era.
Faf du Plessis shone brightly as a captain, led the team from the front and inspired his troops to regroup especially at a time where a spate of massive-if also constant-retirements shook up the foundation of South African cricket.
Truth be told, it’s a shame that how little is reserved to appreciate, let alone acknowledge, the consistent winning record that Faf du Plessis created at a time where a new generation of South African talents were finding their feet in the testing waters of the international game.
To this day, Faf’s record as captain- winning 28 of the 39 one day internationals wherein he captained the limited overs side- and- winning the 23 of the 37 T20 internationals beckons more respect than is usually attributed.
And while many critics and non believers may happily dwell in ignorance, Faf du Plessis, the batsman’s record in the shortest form of the game, widely recognised as modern cricket’s saviour in the fast-paced, buck spinning age cannot possibly be underestimated.
Lest it is forgotten, with the help of 1 century, 10 fifties along with an average that pointed north of 35, Francois ‘Faf’ du Plessis scored some 1,528 T20 international runs for a T20 unit that today flexes its muscles at the back of some rollicking talents in Rossouw, Bavuma, Jansen and Klaasen.
And yet, that Faf du Plessis, despite such a respectable record was overlooked for the 2022 T20 world cup (that took place in Australia) team beckoned more examination and reaction than was given.
But is that all? Is that all where the agonising tale of one of white-ball cricket’s most classiest and quietly focused characters is concerned?
Facts be told, only the contrary is true.
Right when Faf du Plessis, the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s most recently appointed captain was going all guns blazing with the Indian Premier League’s 2023 edition at its peak, along came a shocker of a statement from the current Protean coach Rob Walter.
He’d allude to the fact that while Faf’s talent spoke for itself and so did his experience, the team was looking for a ‘quality’ individual who had ‘led’ his country and one, undoubtedly with ‘strong values.’
While to many singularly obsessed with the sub-continental teams and those who focus less on anything else other than say, the the much-loved IPL and the acclaimed Ashes, such a statement and any subsequent reactions to it would not have mattered much, the cricket tragic and those concerned with South African fortunes in the game would have surely dwelled on what the coach had to say.
For not only was Faf the leader of the side, assuming captaincy at a very difficult, vulnerable moment for the Proteas in the immediate aftermath of De Villiers’ retirement, Faf made the most sounds with the bat playing the solo hero in a less than glorious 2019 ODI world cup campaign.
As a matter of fact and this may serve some fine evidence of those questioning even Faf’s intent of returning to the one day arena with the 50-over World Cup fast approaching, the only century that a South African fired in the previous ODI world cup was Faf du Plessis.
That’s when Amla, de Kock, Duminy all failed to do so in England!
Moreover, if South Africa, who are currently being brilliantly served by Bavuma, Miller, Klaasen and Van der Dussen, are hoping to get someone with a fine blend of a tonnage of runs and experience, then Faf du Plessis is that man.
With a memorable IPL 2023 campaign, where he made a mockery of bowlers- and forget not that he faced them all- whether Umran, Rabada, Rashid, Pathirana, Kuldeep, Chahal, Shami, Nortje, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar among others- Faf has just demonstrated his versatility in the shortest form of the game.
Should he still be overlooked for the ODI world cup in 2023 despite having made nearly 800 IPL runs, still more than what Maxwell and Kohli, two of his great RCB compatriots managed, on what grounds would one cast a blind eye on Faf du Plessis for next year’s T20 world cup?
Will that be even fair? Moreover, what sort of message would that pass on to the average, cricket devoted South African?
Does it mean that meritocracy in contemporary South African cricket carry less of a value than maybe favouritism?
On what plausible grounds would the South African cricket establishment drop the ax on a man who willingly took over the leadership of a side when one great after the other walked into the sunset leaving him alone to pass through a ring of fire?
Surely, playing franchise T20 cricket around the world is Faf’s bread and butter today, but is he really that unfit and devoid of consistency and weak on the run count so as not to be the toast of the Protea fire?