Faf Du Plessis on Test captaincy, AB de Villiers and the IPL

Barnaby Read 27/04/2014
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Power couple: AB de Villiers (l) and Faf du Plessis (r) will be leading the South African sides going forward.

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…

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Malinga appointed T20 captain as Chandimal gets the boot

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Over and in: Malinga (c) celebrates having led his side to the WT20 trophy in the latter stages of the tournament.

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was retained as the Test and one-day skipper.

Chandimal, 24, opted out of the last three matches, including the semi-final and final, of the recent World Twenty20 in Bangladesh due to poor batting form, leaving Malinga in charge.

Malinga, 30, is currently in the UAE representing Mumbai Indians during the first leg of this year's IPL, held in the country.

Sri Lanka went on to beat the West Indies in the semi-final and India in the final to win their first major title since 1996 when they bagged the 50-over World Cup.

All-rounder Mathews was retained as the Test and one-day captain till the end of next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a release from Sri Lanka Cricket said.

Lahiru Thirimanne, a 24-year-old left-hand batsman, was promoted to vice-captain in all three formats, the release added.

Sri Lanka have yet to appoint a new coach after Englishman Paul Farbrace resigned on Tuesday to take up a possible assignment with England.

Farbrace, 46, has been linked to the post of assistant coach to Peter Moores, who was named England's chief coach last week replacing Zimbabwean Andy Flower.

Sri Lanka are due to play two one-day matches against Ireland in Dublin early next month ahead of a tour of England that comprises one T20 international, five one-dayers and two Tests.

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Moores gets second stint as England coach

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Second chance: Peter Moores will once again be in charge of England.

Peter Moores has been given a second chance as England head coach, after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced his appointment on Saturday.

Moores, the first man to twice be appointed England coach, replaced Andy Flower after the former Zimbabwe batsman stood down following the team's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series, starting with a 3-0 win over West Indies, after replacing Duncan Fletcher.

However, he was forced out in 2009 following a rift with Kevin Pietersen that cost the star batsman the England captaincy, although the ECB ended Pietersen's international career after the recent Ashes debacle.

Moores' latest appointment means there is no longer a position in the hierarchy for limited overs coach Ashley Giles after England decided they wanted one coach across all three formats.

Moores joined Lancashire in February 2009, having previously guided Sussex to the County Championship title in 2003. Lancashire had not won the championship outright since 1934 but their long wait ended in 2011.

In an ECB statement, Moores said: "I am very excited about the prospect of returning to a role I have done before and to building a strong relationship with (captain) Alastair Cook and the rest of the players and staff.

"In any time of change there comes opportunity and this is one I can't wait to get stuck into."

ECB managing director Paul Downton added: "Peter has a great reputation around the world as an outstanding coach and he will return to the role as England head coach with a great deal more experience and understanding of the challenges that the role presents.

"There is no doubt that he is the leading English coach of his generation and I believe that this is his time," the former England wicketkeeper added. "His domestic credentials are beyond reproach having won the County Championship at Sussex and then repeating the feat at Lancashire, whose 2011 triumph was their first for 77 years.

"He was also the lead at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough between 2005 and his appointment as England coach in 2007.

"In his time with England he gave Test debuts to Stuart Broad, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann as well as helping to further the international careers of players like the current England captain Alastair Cook and James Anderson.

"He also brought Andy Flower into the England set-up as well as influential individuals like Mushtaq Ahmed as spin bowling coach.

"I was hugely impressed by his vision for the future of the England team and I am looking forward to working with him in the years to come.

"I would personally like to thank Ashley Giles for the job he did with the limited-overs squads in the last 18 months.

"It was a really difficult decision to make as we had an outstanding field but the panel were unanimous in the choice of Peter."

Flower remains in the ECB hierarchy, having been appointed to the newly-created post of technical director of elite coaching last month. England's next match is a one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen on May 9.

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