Kent could be crucial for Faf du Plessis' white-ball future
Not a lot would seem to ride on Faf du Plessis playing for Kent in what’s left of the men’s county T20 competition.
But he could have a point to prove about his white-ball future in the awkward lull between South Africa’s disappointing 2019 Cricket World Cup and the hope for improvement offered by next year’s T20 equivalent.
Du Plessis has signed to play in Kent’s last two group games‚ against Gloucestershire in Canterbury on Thursday against Essex at Chelmsford the next day.
He replaces Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi‚ who is required for international duty in a T20 triangular involving Zimbabwe in Bangladesh next month.
Du Plessis will stay on if the county make it to the knockout rounds‚ which start next Wednesday with the first quarter-final and end in the final at Edgbaston on September 21.
Kent are currently third in their group‚ and so locked and loaded for the play-offs.
But they have suffered three losses and two washouts in their last five games.
So Du Plessis has an opportunity to remind people why he was South Africa’s leading batter in a World Cup campaign that will be remembered for his team’s failure to launch: they lost five of their eight completed games.
And to put some meat on the bones of what he told the Mumbai Mirror earlier this month: “I’m still the captain of the T20 team and very much part of it.”
By then‚ Quinton de Kock had been named to lead South Africa in their T20 series in India next month because Du Plessis had agreed to play in the Euro T20 Slam‚ which was subsequently cancelled.
Had Kent not come calling Du Plessis might have been all padded up with no place to go‚ in T20 terms‚ until the Mzansi Super League (MSL) in November and December.
That wouldn’t have been the best situation for a player and captain who wants to stay in form and relevant‚ particularly in this furiously fluid time in the game in South Africa.
On Tuesday‚ for instance‚ the Jozi Stars replaced the coach who took them to the title last season.
He is Enoch Nkwe — who is now South Africa’s interim team director for the tour to India‚ and by the look of things might be in the job beyond that.
Hence Donovan Miller‚ a former Jamaica under-19 player who is currently part of England’s Ashes staff and worked on their successful World Cup effort‚ and was part of the Stars’ retinue last year‚ has been appointed head coach.
“I’ve played with some of the squad members in the past and look forward to joining up with all the guys again‚” Du Plessis was quoted as saying in a Kent release on Monday.
Two of them are fellow Affies alum and former Titans teammate Heino Kuhn and Hardus Viljoen.
“He is a world-class batsman and‚ along with his leadership skills‚ he will be a major asset to our young side as we seek to progress to the quarter-finals and beyond in this year’s competition‚” Kent director of cricket Paul Downton was quoted as saying.
Du Plessis has indicated that next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia will be his international swansong.
His journey there starts in Canterbury on Thursday.