Du Plessis – not all flash and fluff

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Faf du Plessis is making the most of the respite on offer.

Stylish as ever, the sun’s rays have given South Africa’s No3 batsman the opportunity to haul out his skinny black jeans and cropped zipped top that shows off his guns, which are so impressive it could get him stopped at customs for the transportation of weapons of mass destruction.

Du Plessis is often criticised on social networks for his attention to fashion, hairstyle, cooking - he has just launched a new restaurant, @13Bistro - and his status as a connoisseur of fine red wines.

It is a world apart from the traditional beer-guzzling, bald-headed and pot-bellied cricketer of a previous generation.

Some believe it’s all flash and not much substance, especially as Du Plessis is originally from Blue Bulls country!

However, that judgment would be the furthest thing from reality, especially considering Du Plessis’s performances for the Proteas over the past three years, since his heroic Adelaide Test debut.

For all his former Affies schoolmate AB de Villiers’s ingenuity and inventiveness in entertaining the faithful, Du Plessis has been the rock-solid foundation on which the Proteas’ success has been built.

Never shy to roll up those sleeves and do the dirty work - whether it’s Test or ODI cricket - Du Plessis has a ruggedness and competitive streak that burns even when everyone else is faltering around him.

Ask the Aussies, ask the Indians, ask the Kiwis … you are not through South Africa until you see the back of Du Plessis.

These were words once revered for the great Jacques Kallis. Du Plessis has the same exaggerated reaction to a ball misbehaving off the pitch as Kallis had, but that is where the similarity ends.

In 170 Twenty20 matches, Kallis could never muster a century; Du Plessis has already achieved that milestone when he showed the art of batting in a “360º” manner against the West Indies last season when South Africa’s T20 captain blitzed 119 off just 56 balls (11x4, 5x6) at the Wanderers.

Therein lies the beauty of Du Plessis - his adaptability.

Whether it’s all-out attack or a stone-wall act required, the 30-year-old is your man.

But how does he do it? Do the shackles of Test cricket not frustrate a man with so much pizzazz and chutzpah?

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that,” Du Plessis said.

“Test cricket coming along was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me understand the blueprint of batting. Before that I had been successful in one-day cricket, but I had not quite understood four-day cricket.

“Test cricket has taught me that and more about my own game and what I need to do to be successful.

“It has rubbed off on my one-day game and even T20 game in a way that I now know what works for me, and that I need to stay within that framework irrespective of the format.

“If I venture outside of it, that’s what leads to my demise.”

Discovering what works and what doesn’t is a key component to not only Du Plessis’s game but also his leadership style. This will be brought into focus this season, with a World T20 looming next year in India.

Having felt the furnace of an ICC World T20 kitchen in Bangladesh, when Du Plessis led the Proteas to a semi-final place, he knows it will only get hotter closer to the tournament.

“The good thing is that there is still some time,” he said.

“There were lots of emotions from the World Cup. It’s almost great that there is another tournament on the horizon, another opportunity, so now it is nice to be captain and motivate the guys for the new season.

“I would like to think I am an ‘out of the box’ type of thinker because I am always looking at different ways for us to get ahead.

“It is going to be exciting working on combinations and seeing which group of players will suit us best.

“There is pressure, but we’ll be looking to play our strongest 13/14 players in the build-up to the tournament,” he said.

Weekend Argus

Faf Du Plessis is often criticised on social media for his attention to fashion and hairstyles, writes Zaahier Adams.

Original source: Du Plessis - not all flash and fluff

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