Great to see Faf flourish
Arriving at the decision that a player will be cut out for a certain job in the national team at the highest level, while based on prior performances, is a hunch to a degree.
Once selected, the said player needs to kick on and repay the faith shown in his ability which had not before been seen. The process of adaptation to the new demands is often a separator of boys from men, those that will be able to make the step up and those that will not make it or not do so in time.
Watching Francois du Plessis (or Faf as he is widely known) operate in the national team has been pleasantly surprising for me. I believe that he has come on in leaps and bounds since those 60 runs he scored on debut against India at Newlands before the 2011 Cricket World Cup. He looks to me like a young player in the process of kicking on mentally in his role and appreciating the expectations of his position in the side.
The time in which this has happened will be most pleasing to the selectors and Gary Kirsten as 19 matches is not a long time in terms of one-day cricket. If one were to compare the authority and confidence with which his latest 60 runs were scored with that debut innings in Cape Town, there is a gulf between the two and it bodes well for the Proteas side as his is a critical role in their middle order.
I am sure that the scene of “THAT” run-out of the now captain, AB de Villiers, on that terrible day in Dhaka is etched in many a Proteas supporter’s mind and there is no way Faf himself would have forgotten it. The New Zealanders would not have allowed him to forget it either as he constructed a match-winning partnership with the captain. He had to face his ghost and that he did -- he put that episode to rest very well.
To arrive on a tour in a foreign country and join up with the squad and then go straight into a match that counts and do well without much time to actually acclimatise is a fabulous effort. There is something to be said for playing all the time and keeping oneself in good nick. In these times where many a player is urged to rest, it is often the established and senior players that will readily take up the offer to play no cricket all while those with much to prove will play every game possible.
The likes of JP Duminy, Albie Morkel and Faf, who know that they could quite easily be dropped from the team, are never comfortable in the side and will do everything in their power to ensure that if they have a good thing going in terms of form, they play more to keep it going and if they’re struggling, they play even more than that to try and find their touch again.
While it is good to see Faf flourish, and long may the form continue, it is great to see the younger players coming to the fore after being given the added responsibility by the coach.
I look forward to more of the same in the next couple of one-day internationals.