South Africa are polishing off their preparations to take on the Aussies Down Under. Here’s why they won’t miss good old AB quite as much as you might be thinking.
- He’s bang in form.
Du Plessis goes into Thursday’s opener in Perth in grand nick. He scored an unbeaten century against New Zealand last time he donned the whites, at Centurion two months ago.
Another ton followed in Johannesburg as he skippered the ODI side to a 5-0 battering of this week’s opponents.
He reckons captaincy brings out the best in him – and there’s no better test of that than Down Under.
2. He can lead by example just as well.
Look at him. He’s cool, he’s calm and he is masterful in showing the younger squad members how to bore everyone to distraction in a post-match interview.
He’s one of just a handful of players on the planet who have been able to rival De Villiers’ brilliance in the field over the years.
That coolness and consistency is exactly what you need in the Australian bear pit. Sure, the boss man will be a big miss – but Temba Bavuma, Tabraiz Shamsi and the like can still look up to a solid, confidence-inspiring leader.
3. The great man is only a WhatsApp away.
Providing neither of them are with Cell C, Du Plessis will have a direct line to his old friend who has been there, done it and performed in the Lay’s commercial.
If he feels like he’s missing a trick while De Villiers continues his rehabilitation back in South Africa, he can shamelessly drop him a line and tap into one of the great cricketing minds of the current era.
4. It isn’t a destructive battle of egos.
“Nice” is a terrible word. A day at the beach is nice. A bag of biltong straight from the counter is nice.
But the Proteas’ leadership trio of De Villiers, Du Plessis and Hashim Amla appear unfailingly able to be nice to each other.
They have taken turns at a captaincy job that has appealed – at one time or another – to all of them, without hint of falling out in the great quest for sporting immortality. Or something like that.
Anyway, can you imagine that anywhere else in the cricketing world? The Australians would be brawling in the car park and the English would be keeping a stony-faced silence while their lawyers got on with the paperwork.
We should count ourselves lucky.
5. Du Plessis is the best bet for long-term success.
Think about it. De Villiers frequently speaks about ‘workload management’ in the next few years (that’s packing it in and going fishing, to the rest of us).
It’s hard to keep in mind, despite them both being 32-years-old, that Du Plessis has only played in 31 Tests, compared with De Villiers’ 106.
He has miles in the tank, rather than on the clock. He also won’t trek off into the veld to flog himself with a jacaranda branch to repent for the slightest hint of failure, as you suspect his mate might.