Faf overcomes nerves and boot failure
Most batsmen on test debut would be happy with a first innings of 78, under extreme pressure, but Faf du Plessis inadvertently made as great an impression on a similarly tough stage after his innings – the press conference.
Honesty and humour are both in short supply in the tense atmosphere following a day’s play, especially in the middle of a hard-fought, evenly matched contest – with Sunday journalists on tight deadlines. But without intending to, Faf held a captive audience in his hands.
“To be honest, I was very nervous before I went out to bat. Probably more nervous than my one-day debut,” Du Plessis said.
“Just sitting there waiting to go out to bat, because Graeme got the review, so it takes a couple of minutes. You sit there, you don’t know if you’re going in.
"Then I had an absolute shocker going down the stairs. My boot clipped one of the stairs and my foot came out. I had to kneel in front of the whole crowd while they were abusing me from both sides,” said the Titans stalwart to increasing mirth.
“My shoelaces were tied and my pad was in the way, so I couldn’t get my foot back in. So I was thinking, ‘I’m going to get timed out here, I need to do something.’
“My foot slipped in three-quarters of the way and I just said I’m just going to have to run on with my boot like this so I’ll sort it out when I get there. Then my first step clipped another stair and I almost tripped. So I gave the crowd some nice abuse (ammunition) for myself. When I got out there I said ‘it can’t get any worse.’ I would have booed myself when I was tripping down the stairs, so I can’t blame the crowd!
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“It was nice to come in there with a familiar face, AB, but then he got out. Then it was just for me to hang around with the tail. I said to myself, just bat normally.
“Runs were important but it’s almost more important just to occupy the crease and the runs will come.
“Then when Jacques came, the nice thing for me was the experience he brought for me in my first test. I had a few questions I threw his way today, which he was great in helping me. It was quite tough because I couldn’t get singles all the way, I really thought of his injury, and that he couldn’t sprint too much. That was a challenge in itself. It was a case of either dot ball or a boundary. After a couple of overs we settled into it, you kind of get used to it.
It was quite nice because you just stroll in running between the wickets, because normally I run up and down like a fool. So it was nice to take a chill pill,” Du Plessis said to a background of laughter.
“What we did (taking five wickets) in this last session was exactly what we needed to still have a sniff in the game. We did that and we’re still in with a chance, which is great, because if they just went at 4.5 runs an over with no wickets we would’ve been under massive pressure. So at the moment we’re still in there.”