South Africa’s Faf du Plessis has certainly come a long way since his international debut in 2006.
In the same year, du Plessis made his IPL debut with Chennai Super Kings – the franchise he still represents – and was faced with the intimidating prospect of a changing room brimming with the some of the world’s best players.
Three years on and, as his country’s T20 captain, du Plessis is one of four international skippers in the side and a key member of every team he represents, his country included.
“It was [daunting] in the beginning when I first started playing in the IPL when you walk into the changing room and it’s full of superstars,” said du Plessis.
“But not now that I’ve played a lot of international cricket myself, [I’ve] become part of the furniture.
“It is a really nice experience, to learn from the best players in the world.”
Not only has du Plessis led his side at a World T20 just two years after making his debut in the format, the 29 year-old also revealed that he is in the running for his country’s vacant Test captaincy alongside ODI skipper AB de Villiers.
“[Cricket South Africa and I] have had discussions and my name is definitely in the hat. Myself and AB are the front runners. We’ve spoken about it as well and said that no matter which one it goes to it’s really important we support each other, especially now Graeme [Smith] has gone.
“Graeme was such a huge leader of the team and had done it for [over] ten years. He took the whole leadership on himself because he’s such a powerful leader but it’s important for us that whoever takes over has the support in place from the rest of the team.”
Smith’s boots are indeed large ones to fill.
The imposing opener captained South Africa in a record 109 Tests from the age of 22 and managed to record a record 48 wins as a Test captain before retiring with the side number one in the ICC rankings.
Not only that, Smith scored runs with ruthless efficiency and led his charges through one of their most successful eras.
“I have huge respect for [Smith], he is daunting to follow. And for whoever comes in you are getting the team at its highest and to maintain that is going to be hard. It’s always harder to stay at number one than it is to get there.”
Du Plessis relishes that challenge, however, and has set his sights on helping his country become the top side across each of the three formats in tandem with de Villiers. A man he respects immensely for his work as ODI captain and rates as the world’s best batsman.
“We’re very proud of our No1 position [in Tests]. Twenty20, especially, changes very quickly. Just before the World Cup we were second and two points behind number one. It’s so close together and the rankings can change very quickly there.
“In terms of One-Day cricket, I feel the last year or so we’ve been playing a lot better. But the year, year-and-a-half before that we were a little inconsistent. AB has done really well with the team there and hopefully we can get to number one or two. Getting to the top two in all three forms, is where we want to be,” says du Plessis, before explaining just how highly he rates de Villiers.
“I think he is the best in all three forms. AB’s hand-eye coordination is unbelievable. He has the best eye out of all the players I’ve played with and, skill-wise, him and Virat Kohli are the two best batters in the world for me. They are freakishly good.
“Sometimes when you bat with them you are a bit embarrassed trying to keep up with what they do.
“I think [de Villiers] will go down as one of the best players to have ever played the game.”
Both are sure to form the power playing roles in South African cricket moving forward and their respect for each other and friendship together will form a strong base for the side to maintain their excellent record in recent years.
Du Plessis says that the pair compliment and support each other and that certainly seems the case on the field. Off of it they no doubt have each other’s back but this video, however, suggests it may not always be the wisest decision…