Proteas

Faf form needs to run until CWC

2014-09-17 05:00
Faf du Plessis (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Batting at number three for the Proteas in ODI cricket, the form of Faf du Plessis has been nothing short of astounding. Whether or not he can maintain it remains the burning question.

In a three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo last month, Du Plessis compiled 154 runs, with two fifties.

South Africa ran out comprehensive 3-0 winners against the lesser-fancied Zimbabweans.

But it was in the triangular series which followed, with Australia joining the action, where the 30-year-old's form exploded.

He scored 464 runs with three centuries and a knock of 96 in the final - narrowly missing out on becoming the first ever player to score four ODI hundreds in a single tournament.

South Africa beat Australia by six wickets with 55 balls to spare, chasing 218 for victory in the final to win the series.

With the 2015 World Cup looming, to be hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand, South Africa will play 13 ODIs before the showpiece begins in February.

The Proteas would dearly like to lift the one trophy which has eluded them and Du Plessis would play a vital role if they were to succeed.

He had been left out of the ODI side which toured Sri Lanka in July, to make way for veteran allrounder Jacques Kallis.

However, following scores of zero, one and four, Kallis decided to call it quits.

His decision opened the door for Du Plessis and, following his achievements in Zimbabwe, ODI captain AB de Villiers said his former school-mate had cemented his place in the number three spot.

The Proteas next travel to New Zealand in late October for a three-match ODI series followed by a five-match series against Australia on their home turf.

The last ODI assignment before the World Cup is a five-match series against a touring West Indian team ending in late January - just two weeks prior to the World Cup.

With all these fixtures in mind, Du Plessis might well wonder how he will manage to keep his rich vein of form going.

The crux of the matter, no matter the skill and ability of the cricketer, is that form in any sport is difficult to predict and sustain.

In cricket, and batting in particular, technique plays a large role in a player's ability to score runs.

Du Plessis in his 464-run assault in the triangular series displayed incredible hand-eye co-ordination in his efforts to clear the boundary, but often appeared unbalanced in his footwork.

This was of little concern as the timing of his shots was sublime, but down the road when runs could become more scarce it could present a problem.

Du Plessis's technique, however, cannot be seriously faulted as his recent performances in the longest format suggests. In his last three Tests - two against Sri Lanka, and one against Zimbabwe - Du Plessis scored 266 runs at an average of 53.2.

When the form of Du Plessis inevitably runs out, it will be up to the player himself to adjust accordingly in his attempt to keep the runs flowing.

The question of when that will be, however, remains to be seen and South Africans will be hoping that if it happens, it only occurs after the World Cup.

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