Big hundreds give statisticians a lot of work to do. Hundreds that come in a losing cause, give the vanquished a lot to deal with.
But, Faf du Plessis scores hundreds when South Africa really need it.
It appears that things are often in chilled out in Faf du Plessis’ universe.
The Pretorian walks out to bat like a wildcat on a gentle prowl. There’s no mindless roaring. There’s an aim, a definite target to get. He muscles a few blows, the usual result of which directs the ball to be shot from the meat of the bat.
It eventually looks as if an unflustered dude struck a golf-shot. That’s all it was; a terrific strike amid lush green gardens with the gentle breeze flowing and falling autumn leaves.
Faf’s easygoing presence doesn’t veil his concentration in the middle. Not a man who looks tense, he may even seem like a dude who may just walk out to bat wearing slippers and a casual-T, albeit someone who’ll pull it off.
His cricket would continue undeterred.
So as he struck what might be called a century that’ll be perhaps the closest to his heart, the 103 against Pakistan set right some wrongs about the charming batsman.
While it took Faf du Plessis an almost full year’s worth of batting, including 10 Tests, (therefore, 20 innings) to score 463 very unsatisfying runs the last year, including a hundred at only 24, this year already, it seems, the old Faf is back.
The batsman who seemed unsure about himself and his technique in 2018, a year where AB hung up his boots, now hardly looks the part of someone who’d rely on a particular cult hero to do the scoring for his South Africa.
What’s changed about Faf, one might ask?
If you saw his Cape Town special, an inning which he himself described as ‘special’ since ‘it’s my first at Cape Town) at Newlands, you’d have noticed something interesting.
The usual Faf seemed to have returned, the man who drew forces against Australia in his debut Adelaide Test, soldiering on for a draw.
And implicit in Faf’s dogged effort- 103- against an attack that featured Amir, Abbas, Yasir Shah, it seemed the bloke carved his shots as much as he’s played an admirer to it.
He had so much time in the world. Batting for Faf at Newlands was about as natural as an amphibian being amid water. It thrives in it. Faf thrived in on Pakistan, determined to push them to the back foot, and so he did.
In his world where there seem no egos and breezy vibes, even when he cops up a one-match suspension for his team’s slow over-rate, it doesn’t really mean a tragedy has struck.
For in Faf du Plessis land- where giving hugs to teammates is as regular as flexing a glorious square drive- things are bright, match-winning like his famous Cape Town hundred, and purely Protean.
But it’s a shame that Faf won’t be playing the third and final Test against Pakistan.
It’s a shame that no more will we see Amir’s reverse swing and Abbas’s pace teamed alone Yasir’s guile attempting to breach past du Plessis’ stumps. What’s a blessing, however, is that Faf’s begun 2019 really well.
What’s a potentially dangerous warning for bowlers is that the year has just started and one of Proteas’ most essential missiles in seemingly unlimited ammo- Amla, de Kock, Miller, Bavuma, Elgar, Klassen, Duminy- has fired his opening salvo!