Doing OK is not OK‚ Du Plessis tells batters
Some players would be happy they were one of two who had scored almost two thirds of a team’s runs.
Faf du Plessis is not among them.
With Quinton de Kock‚ Du Plessis has contributed 501 of the 791 runs South Africa’s batters have made in the first three games of the one-day series against Sri Lanka. But that means the other 10 players who have batted have added only 290 to the cause.
“We’re a team that needs everyone to step up‚” Du Plessis told reporters in Durban on Sunday.
“If you’re doing just OK that’s not enough.”
Or‚ as he also said‚ “Guys know they need to raise their game to allow us to be the team we want to be.”
It’s the view of a captain who not only needs to find a way to get the best out of his team at a World Cup now not much more than two months away‚ but who also has to steer that side past the shock retirement from their ranks not quite 10 months ago of perhaps the most explosive player yet to pick up a bat.
“AB is a fantastic batter but sometimes you can‚ in the back of your mind‚ rely on guys like that‚” Du Plessis said.
“And that’s not the way I want us to play as a team.
“You’re not guaranteed a performance but you are guaranteed putting in the hard work and raising your own intensity to make sure you’re a better player than you were before.”
AB de Villiers played 228 ODIs‚ and when he scored a century his team lost only three of them.
There is no replacing players capable of having an impact of that magnitude on their sides‚ and wisely Du Plessis isn’t asking that of his players.
He spoke after South Africa had delivered their most convincing batting display of the series at Kingsmead‚ totalling 331/5 with stands of 97‚ 66 and 53.
De Kock owned the lion’s share with his 121‚ but everyone else who took guard — except Reeza Hendricks — forged past 30 and Rassie van der Dussen made 50.
“We spoke about the batting and wanting to be better and raising the standards‚” Du Plessis said. “Twenties and 30s are not going to win us the World Cup.
“We need guys to put there hands up. Today was a proper batting performance.”
It set the tone for a third consecutive success‚ by 71 runs in a rain-affected match‚ to help South Africa clinch the series at the first opportunity.
“There were times of going hard and then times of pulling back on the gears and playing smart cricket. The flow of how the batters batted today was the perfect way how we want to bat.
“We need to be brave to do that because just playing a conservative style of cricket is not going to win the World Cup.”
Indeed. But brave doesn’t mean reckless.
“It’s important that you’re prepared to take the risks‚ you are brave enough to take the risks‚ you’re not scared of failing‚” Du Plessis said.
“You need to be prepared to do it. But within that comes an element of smart cricket. It’s not always just trying to hit sixes.”