South Africa

Sport: Faf du Plessis dreams of AB de Villiers-Proteas reunion

Captain Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers of South Africa during day 2 of the 4th Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on March 31, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Since his retirement from the national team in 2018, AB de Villiers has consistently been linked with a return to the Proteas. Some people, including Faf du Plessis, believe that he is central to helping South Africa to victory at the T20 World Cup.

Former Proteas captain Faf du Plessis says he would love for AB de Villiers to return to the national team fold. 

De Villiers retired from Proteas duty in the summer of 2018. Since his retirement he has been making waves across T20 leagues worldwide. It’s been a similar story for the 36-year-old in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as he has put on some electric performances for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

Du Plessis, a close friend of De Villiers who has also been strutting his stuff in the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings, says with the T20 World Cup rescheduled for next year, he would love for the blistering batsman to return for one last hoorah with Proteas team.

“It’s [trying to convince De Villiers to come back] actually something I did pretty much straight after the 2019 World Cup. After a week of sulking, I was like ‘okay, how can we plan for the next World Cup?’ Which is the 2020 [T20] World Cup. I got on a phone call with him and I said ‘listen, I’m giving you the heads-up now, the heads-up that you wanted. So, get yourself back to playing T20 cricket for South Africa’,” said De Plessis during a webinar hosted by the South African Business Council.

“Right now the leadership group, which no longer requires my WhatsApps and phone calls, would need to just look at how exactly that looks for him. I know he was keen to play this year in the 2020 World Cup, but now that’s not happening… So I think what will happen now with the conversations there is just when he can come back and play some games that lead up towards the tournament.” 

Cricket World Cup disappointment

Du Plessis has labelled the Proteas’ below par and disappointing campaign at the 2019 One Day International (ODI) World Cup as one of the biggest disappointments of his career. The Proteas failed to make the knockout stages as they finished seventh from a 10-team table, managing only three wins and suffering five losses. 

“The hardest part of my captaincy was definitely the last year of captaining [2019]. A couple of things were the reason for that. Obviously, the 2019 World Cup is one. What you do with World Cups is that you put a lot of planning into them,” Du Plessis said. 

“Probably two years of my life as a leader went into planning for that tournament. And to have it go so horribly wrong right at the start; losing three big players to injury – you just go ‘man, how is this fair?’ Unfortunately those are the cards you get dealt. All your plans and everything you put into place goes down south. We didn’t have a great campaign, we didn’t play good cricket. To deal with that failure was really tough.”

With spectators still prohibited from sporting events in most countries due to Covid-19, including United Arab Emirates where the IPL is currently taking place, the batsman also touched on the challenges of playing in empty stadiums. 

Traditionally stadiums during IPL games would be packed to the rafters with passionate Indian fans. However, with Covid-19 still posing a massive threat, Du Plessis and his fellow cricketing superstars have had to do with playing in echo chambers.

The 36-year-old said he misses the pressure that comes with playing in front of hostile opposition crowds, joking that once things were back to some semblance of normality, South Africa should schedule as many matches as possible against India in order to experience their raucous supporters.  

“You don’t get that vibe, that energy, and even pressure. Pressure comes from the opposition fans. Right now what we need to do is schedule a lot of tours against India because at least then you play against them with all their amazing fans shouting at us,” said Du Plessis. DM

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