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Need to start new season after having a few ghosts in India series: Faf du Plessis

Faf Du Plessis
South African captain Faf Du Plessis. (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

South Africa’s stand-in-skipper, Faf du Plessis is eager to make a mark in the home series against New Zealand. He admitted that the South African batsmen struggled in India last year as they lost the 4-match Test series against India.

“We suffered a bit; we had a few ghosts after the Indian series and that was most of the guys,” du Plessis said. “India was tough for us a batting unit and it left a few scars. Now it’s a new season, we can focus on the strength of our batting again. The only way we can do that is by putting runs on the board,” he added.

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He averaged just 8.57, scoring 60 runs in the series against India, and his struggle continued in the home series against England averaging 25.40. “I had been very successful up until that point, where I averaged close to 50 in Test cricket so to look to dramatically change things would be wrong,” he said.

“But it’s about going back to my game plans and what worked really well. If you have good form, you can just run with it and score as many runs as possible. If you are on the other side of that, you need to fight to get back in,” he added. “In the England series, we were fighting to get back into form after the Indian series. It’s an important series for me personally to try and make a statement in that middle order and be a powerful batter in our lineup.”

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“We had a nice culture because we were playing well and then you can almost just leave it be,” he said. “Now, we want to challenge each other more and that goes right from the top, from the coaching staff to the guys carrying drinks on the field. We are trying to challenge each other more to be better and to not accept mediocrity.”

“We have fallen in a few traps where we play so much cricket, you just rock up and play another game of cricket but playing for South Africa is a huge honour and it’s about challenging each other to be better and to get back to being No.1. We’ve got series at home now which can make a difference and which we will need to win. We’ve got New Zealand now and Sri Lanka later this year and in both those series, if we play well, we should win.”

Du Plessis is also delighted that two of their key bowlers, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander is making his way back to the squad. “We saw when they weren’t there against England that you cannot replace an experienced attack,” Du Plessis noted. “Take Southee and Boult out of New Zealand or Anderson and Broad out of England and it’s just a different team. There’s no substitute in Test cricket for guys who can bowl relentlessly in good areas for a long period of time. Young bowlers can come in and do well in any other format but, especially in Test cricket, the experience is really important.”

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Du Plessis also wants South Africa to slightly change the way they approach the game as they need to play an aggressive brand of cricket. “We are a very resilient team and sometimes we waited for the chips to be down and then we came back and played really good cricket, he said. “We did that extremely well and there was a time when we were the only team that could stick it out and fight back and draw.”

“For us to move forward as a team, we need to throw the first punch more and play a more aggressive brand of cricket. Aggressive never means doing anything stupid. We understand what we need to do. The basics in Test cricket will always remain the most important thing. It’s just more a mindset to be a little bit more attacking,” he concluded.

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