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Faf is Having fun again

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“It’s great that experienced those guys can talk and help younger players because it does fast-track their careers.”

FAF du Plessis would be the first to admit that 2019 has not been one of his better years. Even though the Proteas skipper claimed the coveted SA Cricketer of the Year during this period, it has always been about the team’s performance for Du Plessis.

And in that regard it has been a harrowing experience. From a first-ever Test series defeat to an Asian nation on home soil when Sri Lanka came to Africa and took the spoils 2-0, followed by the World Cup debacle in the United Kingdom to ultimately being whitewashed by India 3-0 in the Test series.

From previously being “Captain Marvellous” with comparisons being made to England’s legendary skipper Mike Brearley, there were suddenly questions being posed about Du Plessis’s future as the Proteas leader.

Temba Bavuma was being pushed heavily in some circles as a potential successor, while Quinton de Kock led the Proteas to a credible 1-1 drawn T20 series result in India.

The pressure was certainly starting to show on the previously ultra-cool Du Plessis, while the challenges Cricket SA were facing at boardroom level also weighed heavily on the 35-year-old’s shoulders.

Du Plessis needed something to fall back in love with the game. The Paarl Rocks proved to be the perfect distraction.

From the outset of the Mzansi Super League Du Plessis stated that the tournament was an opportunity to have “some fun”.

The fun lasted all the way to a balmy night at Boland Park on Monday evening when Du Plessis led the Rocks to their maiden MSL title. It may prove to be just the tonic the Proteas skipper required to get himself back into the right frame of mind for the almighty challenge England pose in just over a week.

“I’ve really enjoyed this campaign. I’ve really enjoyed working with young guys, getting their heads in the right space and getting them to understand their games better,” Du Plessis said after the Rocks romped to an eight-wicket victory over the Tshwane Spartans.

“It’s great that experienced those guys can talk and help younger players because it does fast-track their careers.”

Du Plessis also acknowledged the need to groom new leaders like Bavuma and De Kock as part of a succession plan for the Proteas, but he was by no means ready to hand over the skipper’s armband just yet.

“I’m still very motivated to captain in all three formats and that hasn’t changed,” Du Plessis said.

“But it is also important to use other captains in this process over the next year when there is an opportunity to use guys.

“There will be a time that someone else will need to take over and it is a great opportunity to start doing it in small series, it might be one-day cricket, it might be T20 cricket just to expose younger guys to learning.”

The national skipper was also upbeat that CSA have pivotal decisions regarding the Proteas, particularly the appointment of new coach Mark Boucher.

“Everyone wants the team to do well, everyone wants to make sure we get the right people in the right positions. It’s good that there is a bit of positivity around in and there’s excitement in the air, myself included. I am very excited with the start of this new journey,” Du Plessis added.