HomeCricketWith AB gone, why Faf, not in the best...

With AB gone, why Faf, not in the best of forms, is the man for South Africa going ahead?

- Advertisement -

When AB left for good!

It may not be wrong to suggest that right at the beginning of the Indian summer of 2018, did fans embrace a tragedy here. Even as it took place in South Africa, its ripples were felt far and wide beyond the Madiba-land.
Interestingly, this was a peculiar event in the sense that it spelt a tragedy even as there was nothing mortally damaging about it.
That AB De Villiers called time on his career wasn’t just a sad day; it was more.
And it is something that pure lovers of the game might recall with a particular distaste even in times to come given the magical nature of the sportsman involved.
Facebook went on an emotional overdrive as Twitter produced more Tweets per minute on the Superman of cricket than ever seen thus far.

When Faf took charge in the real sense of the word

But that event did raise a few questions concerning South Africa. In the dying moments of 2017, it became clear why South Africa are rated so highly. One saw in Markram, a genuine future leader.
We also saw, the collective bench strength of one of the most superior outfits in the game persisting with JP Duminy, not necessarily in the best of forms.
And finally, when the mind of the die-hard Protea lover found time to reflect on a plausible query, one dealing with existential crises- “What next, after De Villiers”- there emerged some belief.
That South Africa still had Amla, de Kock, and ‘Killer Miller’, provided a sense of solidity in the unit, particularly from the standpoint of the 2019 World Cup even as no emphatic gesture attributed to the magic that only AB could’ve brought in the tournament would ever suffice.
And finally, that a certain Faf Du Plessis was still very much around offered a sense of reassurance that guys with experience can bring. And then, immediately thereafter, with South Africa contesting in a series after another, the games in Sri Lanka, followed by the visit of Zimbabwe to the Protea-land, followed by Pakistan, as seen recently, sort of dented the confidence one carried in Faf.

- Advertisement -

Ordinary Test form but shiny ODI form

And if in case, one had great doubts about the above assertion, then a mere look at Faf’s figures in 2018 offer an explanation.
At that time of the year, where one enthusiastically reflects on all that’s been achieved, one’s not sure that Faf would like very much his gathering from the 5-dayers.
That he could only collect 463 runs but from 20 innings, at an average more modest than the economy of a third-world country (with all due respect): 24 didn’t cut a promising picture.
That Faf had more opportunities to go out and collect valuable scores for his side than he’s ever had in his career underline what was a poorly drafted narrative, but one concerning a cricket side that’s about exhilaration.
So if you were a concerned Protean fan wondering what’s going to happen to ‘my dear team’ or any cricket lover from Virat-land, from the land of Sir Alastair Cook, or someone who witnessed a spirited batting resistance forged Down Under, you didn’t admire a lot about Faf this year.

Why Faf matters

Faf du Plessis
Faf’s Test form warrants attention (Business Live)

To make matters worse, your concerns about Faf Du Plessis’ batting form, in particular, were exacerbated by the familiar issues that Hashim Amla mirrored during the same course of time, in 2018. To make matters worse, with Markram only just born in international cricket with Duminy, finally finding some lost touch in the longest format, but only just, a lot seemed missing at the core of the South African batting- did it not?
In that sense, you couldn’t be blamed about meandering with the ‘what could have’ zone; what if AB was still around?
But here’s the thing that perhaps one seems to have missed out on concerning Du Plessis.
Is he a cricketer who co-habits a rare league- inconsistent but gifted defined by belligerent striking- of the kinds to which a Mark Waugh, Richie Richardson, Brendon Taylor- belong?
Is Faf one of those guys who can fail in the longer narrative of the game, arguably to the flaws that, do not seem to feature in other formats?
Because if you observed the indifference of an opinion he attracted largely to the inconsistencies of his batting in 2018, then this seems rather true.

Wondering how?

Faf du Plessis
Faf’s ODI form this year was special, did you notice? (George Herald)

In a year where the South African captain, with 55 Tests disappointed in the longer format- although managing a century while the more experienced Amla, 120 Tests, failed to do so- Faf’s ODI tally surprised remarkably.
It showcased a feistiness that beckons to be taken into consideration before shoving aside one of the game’s most attractive shot-makers. That Faf Du Plessis amassed 434 runs from 8 ODIs in 2018 but with an average of 62, the highest he’s reached in a seven-year ODI run, attracts as much as it makes him a subject of polarizing cricketing debate.
To top it up, a year where the dashing right-hander couldn’t even increase proximity to blokes like Kohli, Pujara, Willaimson, on pure form seemingly compensated the lack of Test runs by scoring 2 impressive ODI hundreds, ending his ODIs with a strike rate of 96.
And that, there’s little doubt about what he can achieve given his ballsy batting in ODIs excites the Protean fan just as much as it opens a Pandora’s box about the 34-year-old’s consistency.
Nothing could motivate South Africa about fostering a World Cup chance as much as reflecting upon the fact that men who form the key nucleus of the side- Amla, de Kock, Faf- each have over 16000 ODI runs among them, moreover with each pillar of the Protean trinity having scored over 150 as a personal best.
But whether they can come together as a unit to truncate the lasting of their opponents when it most matters, minus De Villiers among them leaves room for some circumspection.
That said, one would hope for Faf to reflect on his key strength, one that compliments his surge to explore runs on either side of the wicket, as reflected by rasp cuts and flicky strokes: the ability to bring the side together.
As someone who’s walked among legends- Kallis, Smith, Steyn and AB- and is now leading an army of new-age warriors- Rabada, Klassen, Markram, de Kock- Faf finds himself at a unique crossroads where experience (in Amla, Duminy, Steyn) meets the exuberance.
In that regard, Faf- currently under pressure of having endured a poor year- would do well to reflect on his own 2016-17 Test form, a season that fetched over 1200 Test runs at 54.

What lies ahead?

In the same light, his critics, too excited to snub him at the back of a poor year are forgetting that Francois Du Plessis had indicated what he’s capable of in only his maiden series.
In the wake of De Villiers’ sudden departure, have we completely lost faith in old-hands like him? It wasn’t De Villiers, Kallis, or Smith who rescued the Proteas in that famous Adelaide draw, 2010 when playing only his maiden Test a 466-minute effort would bring the handsome face to the attention of worldwide media?
Moreover, for a man who wears cool weathers on his sleeves, underneath which remain drool-worthy, Insta-ideal brawns seems to like a good challenge as much as he desires in stoking the Protea fire.
A rather sedate effort, when compared to his 185 in ODIs- that 120 at the Wanderers Test in March 2018 against the Aussies- explains.
Keep fighting Faf!

- Advertisement -
Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

15 Highly Educated Cricketers Of All Time

Cricket is a game of passion and dedication. A sport in which one involves themselves in camps and practice since early childhood. Due to...

Do we often under-appreciate Andy Flower? What’s his legacy?

There's a hint of sadness in noting that Zimbabwe has never been a dominant power in world cricket. But nothing could be sadder than...

Why are more and more MotoGP riders using the Noson nasal dilator?

Introduction MotoGP riders or athletes are physically fit and healthy individuals and their muscles are continuously functioning and used during the performance. As a fan...

How Come UFC Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears But Boxers Don’t?

The UFC has come a long way since its early days, wherein the fights seemed like modern-day gladiators due to its brutality and inconsistent...

5 spinners who can be India’s potential finger-spinners

The Indian cricket team has always been proud of its ability to produce world-class batsmen and similarly potent spinners. Though in recent times, the...

IPL 2018: The beautiful Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

Being seated in the Sawai Mansingh stadium brings a different world, a world of difference away from the palpable excitement of watching truly India’s...

Top 5 Left Wingers In The World, Based On 2019-20 Season

Owing to the fact that football has evolved a lot since its inception and the tactics have changed a lot, the role of wingers...

The astonishing decline of Mario Balotelli

There was a time when Mario Balotelli was on top of the world.  The Italian talisman had scored two goals in the Euro 2012 semi-finals,...

What can be expected from the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Heat in the air and heat inside the car- that's been the story of the Azerbaijan Grand prix. As F1 parks itself at Baku...

How Suresh Raina Batted India Into The Finals of 2011 World Cup

Its been 9 years, since India won the Cricket World Cup defeating Sri Lanka on 2 April, 2011. The images and visuals of...

IPL 2018: The best from the West Indies

When one of nature's treacherous attacks on mankind- earthquakes- strike, their impact is measured on Richter's scale. When West Indians strike in a tournament...

Ajax XI if they didn’t sell their star players

Based in Amsterdam, AFC Ajax, who incidentally draw their name from the legendary Greek hero of the same name, are the most successful club...

Age Fraud in Indian Cricket: Are players really to be blamed?

There have been times while watching a cricket match when we tend to hear commentators comment on cricketers’ age. We as fans have many...

Big change for India Women’s cricket as BCCI looks to finalise bowling coach soon

We are not even at the halfway stage of the 2018 cricketing season. It clearly seems there's no stopping India's women's cricket team. The...

5 famous players to play for both Leeds United and Liverpool

Leeds United are back in the Premier League after 16 years and will play Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday in their very first match...

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -