Faf's got it right
Sportsmen all set certain goals and more often than not it is those that stick at it through tough and disappointing times or when things do not quite go according to plan, who achieve their goals.
In times past, it was a huge deal for youngsters to make it to a representative side in their age group and get national colours. As they get older, the target is the main international team and in that regard there are three squads that one could be selected for, so more of an opportunity.
I reckon those players who make their national ODI or T20 team alone still do not quite feel they have attained their goal if they do not play in the test match team for their country – and fairly so too, as test match cricket is the pinnacle of the game.
Still, I would not be surprised if young players in these times aimed at playing the T20 version of the game alone, as there is the money that draws them and could well set them up for life financially.
So when I had a short chat with Faf du Plessis not long before the Indian Premier League final, I was pleasantly surprised at what he revealed about how his impending winter would go. He had, not long before, been appointed captain of the South Africa A side and in order to take up that duty, he agreed to forfeit his contract with Somerset County Cricket Club in England.
I asked if he had any difficulty getting out of the contract and he said that Somerset were pretty understanding on the whole issue. On whether he needed persuading to do the job, he said no. He added that it was a case of seeing the bigger picture and doing the right things in order to one day represent the country in the longest and purest form of the game – test cricket.
His answer was as heartening as it was surprising to me because I am of the opinion that many see the money first, and if any moves they are asked to make do not go directly towards the goal of maximising income, they avoid them.
In continuing to talk to him and hearing him explain how it happened, I felt he was being sincere in his utterances and not just saying what he was “supposed” to say. Impressive indeed!
For Faf, playing at Somerset would have meant a bit more cash than playing in the A side and there would be the potential enhancement of reputation in the T20 form of the game thereby appreciating one’s stock for bargaining in future contract negotiations. He already has played ODIs for South Africa, so his path to the test team, if he so chose, could be through the many ODIs he plays.
To accept to captain the A side and play the longer form of the game for less money is to do it the right and less profitable way round and earn one’s stripes. It is not guaranteed that his method and good planning will pay off but I am pleased that there are some younger players out there who see the bigger picture and understand that the long way round to get to the test match team, is sounder than the short cut.
Money is very important to everyone as all have to afford a good living but it is so important to achieve a balance between attaining your goals and earning all the money you can.
The South Africa test match team is very settled at the moment but nobody can play forever and those aspiring to get into that powerhouse side best put in the hard yards over a decent period of time, as that is the only way to not just get there but get there and be good enough to stay.
Good luck to Faf and good on him. Whether he ends up making that side is not guaranteed and, for me, that isn’t the issue. He is trying to get there in the right way. Captaining will help him too, as he will look at the game in the right way, strategically devising ways in which to win all the time. Leaders are valuable in a team environment.