Faf du Plessis has lightheartedly said any decisions over his international future will be taken with a ‘glass of red wine in hand’.
After his side’s 10 run victory over Australia which ultimately did little more than restore pride in the Protea badge, the question on everyone’s lips concerned the future of Du Plessis. Was this his last post-match press conference as captain of South Africa?
‘I don’t know right now,’ Du Plessis said after meandering through his feelings after an emotional match in which he scored a hundred and said goodbye to JP Duminy and Imran Tahir, who had played their final ODI for the Proteas.
‘I love playing for South Africa and I hope that is still something that I…’ Whether he was overwhelmed with emotion or at a loss for the right words was hard to gauge. This reporter’s opinion is obviously anecdotal but the Proteas skipper’s eyes seemed to glisten as he delivered his next line.
‘The big thing fire me is to have purpose as a leader. I don’t want to just play games for the sake of playing games. When I play I want to make sure I’m motivated to keep doing it and right now, sitting here, I am still very much motivated.’
Du Plessis’ hard exterior, both literally and figuratively, belies a softness that is not often revealed. But as the sun set on a disappointing World Cup campaign, he allowed his guard to slip and conveyed mixed emotions as he processed his recent past and his immediate future.
‘I really enjoyed today so it will be hard to walk away from the feeling of playing international cricket,’ he said with a smile on his face. ‘But that will probably be decided in front of a fireplace with a glass of red wine in my hand.’
With Tahir and Duminy stepping aside, and with Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn on the verge of their own retirements, Du Plessis would be the last of a generation of South African cricketers that climbed to the summit of the Test rankings while constantly remaining a force in limited overs cricket, even if a world title remained elusive.
When asked if Cricket South Africa now needed to focus entirely on the 2023 World Cup and begin a four-year plan, Du Plessis took a measured approach.
‘In a perfect world, yes, you would like to do that,’ he said. ‘I think there his still a space for the in between of now and four year years’ time, so if your plan is to start introducing young players, I think you have to have some experience around. I think to completely cut off everything is not necessary’
Is this the last we see of du Plessis? Who knows. Difficult conversations must be had and many glasses of red must be poured before any big decisions are made.
Whatever the case is, the Proteas have been led by an admirable character, one of great integrity and self confidence. A man with a chiselled exterior but a marshmallow heart.
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