Du Plessis impact on Proteas is unmissable

2018-04-05 14:03
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Cape Town - He may not have had the best summer with the bat, but Faf du Plessis has solidified his position as South Africa's leader. 

Series wins over India and Australia - both at home - have gone down a treat and Du Plessis's numbers as skipper continue to impress. 

Since 2016, when Du Plessis took the reins following the resignation of Hashim Amla and the decision from AB de Villiers to take a break from the game, the Proteas have played in eight Test series. 

They have won seven of them. 

The only one they lost was last year's tour of England when Du Plessis missed the opening game of the series because he was awaiting the birth of his child. 

Du Plessis has won 15 of the 23 matches he has captained, losing five and drawing three.

That gives him a win percentage of 65.21% - the highest of any South African to have captained 20 or more Test matches. 

Shaun Pollock finished with a win percentage of 53.84% from his 26 matches as skipper, Hansie Cronje 50.94% from 53 while Graeme Smith won 49.07% of his 108 Tests as captain. 

While Du Plessis's decisions on the field were impressive once more - his bowling changes, in particular, stood out - it was his leadership off of it that was exemplary. 

This was no ordinary series. 

From the staircase incident in Durban, to the Kagiso Rabada suspension and appeal, to Sonny Bill Williams masks and the ball-tampering scandal that rocked cricket ... Du Plessis had his hands full.

He was asked to comment about the off-field sagas throughout the series, and every time he spoke about them he did so with class. 

The press conference following Steve Smith's emotional media breakdown at Sydney Airport was the best example of this, as Du Plessis offered his sympathies to a man he called "one of the good guys" in cricket. 

Even in victory, Du Plessis remained grounded and humble. 

He had been poor with the bat up until the final innings in Johannesburg, where he scored 120, but even through that poor dip in form Du Plessis was considered key to the South African cause. 

Having been smashed on the same finger twice during that final innings, it looked like injury would force Du Plessis to retire hurt. Instead, the skipper batted through the pain.

"I like that in him. That’s the character of a champion and a leader," said coach Ottis Gibson.

"That’s why when he wasn’t making hundreds I said that I’m not too worried.

"The other stuff that he brings to the team in his leadership and character speaks volumes about the person that he is."

Proteas speedster Kagiso Rabada, named man-of-the-series for his 23 wickets, said the South African success over the past 18 months had a lot to do with Du Plessis.

"Faf is a great leader because he’s got time for everyone," Rabada explained.

"He’s someone who has good emotional intelligence and that’s very important as a captain because he understands every player and he can have a conversation with everyone.

"When you understand people that’s when you can know what gets them going. He is a very fair guy and he’s very honest.

"All these results are not a coincidence, I think he’s done a great job." 

Read more on:    proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  johannesburg  |  cricket

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