Elder statesman - Faf du Plessis - aims to guide the upcoming players for leadership positions in South African cricket and states this is going to be a major area of focus in his remaining career.
The 35-year-old relinquished captaincy two months ago after calling the shots for about four years but he is still marshalling the troops in the Test team.
Quinton de Kock has replaced Du Plessis as the limited-overs skipper. With cricket in limbo, there is plenty of time for chalking out plans for the future and set the priorities right and so Du Plessis vows to assist players in developing the requisite tactical acumen and essentials of leadership that are necessary to cope with the demands of international cricket.
The former captain relished his captaincy duties and now focuses on spearheading the current players in assimilating to their roles.
“I will miss the captaincy, but now I need to move on to try and add value to help create new leaders. This is something I’ve looked at as my real purpose for next year.
“I think leadership is something we need to place some emphasis on in South African cricket and again, it’s an area I want to help in," Du Plessis said.
However, he made no allusion to the possibility of retiring anytime soon and is desperate to return to field. His love for the game hasn't ebbed in COVID-19 sombre situation.
“I still love playing for the Proteas, I still love being involved with a Proteas,” he elucidated. “I still see myself adding huge value. I’m still extremely motivated and keen to play for the Proteas in all three formats, so the hunger is there and I’m looking forward to it next season," Du Plessis remarked.
South Africa faced an early exit from the ICC ODI 2019 World Cup and Du Plessis had to take the brunt of the blame for yet another underwhelming marquee event campaign.
Amid erratic changes in Cricket South Africa and wholesalers changes in the squad, Proteas slipped on the banana peel and the decadence was conspicuous against England and India. However, the performances in limited-overs cricket have been fairly consistent.
Du Plessis acknowledged being in a predicament in the last season and referred to the string of insipid performances as 'the toughest'. It was hard for the veteran batsman to come out of the emotional experience.
“The season gone by is probably been up there with one of the toughest I’ve had to face over my career because it had a lot of different elements to it that were not just about cricket.
“Obviously it started with the World Cup being a very tough an emotional roller coaster for a lot of us, not just me… there were a lot of emotions that we went through and that was really tough," Du Plessis beamed.
Du Plessis described the India tour as a learning curve for him that provided an opportunity to assess the team's standing and where he wanted to see them in the next few years.
“We went from there to India, which I knew would be a really tough tour for us as a team and a real big challenge for me to get through as a leader as well, but I was very optimistic.
"Obviously, the tour didn't go as well as we would have liked, we didn't play particularly good cricket, even though things started very well in that first Test. I learnt a lot from the tour about where we were as a Test team. Then it was a case of how we can move forward," he said.
The seasoned campaigner ascribed South Africa's shoddy performance on falling short in experience but with the new backroom staff, he hopes things would take an upward swing.
Du Plessis believes lack of experience was South Africa’s biggest hurdle in the recent past, but he thinks that now that the team has been given a dynamic backroom staff, they will become a tough side to beat. He laid emphasis on having experienced coaches as a key for performing up to the mark.
“The one thing that was obvious for me was we couldn’t replace experience overnight,” he continued. “It was going to take some time. We also felt we needed to get some experience into our coaching staff.
"Enoch (Nkwe as interim Team Director during the tour to India) did a great job in India, but we felt that because we lacked for the first time in a long time experience in the team, we needed to fill that gap from an experience point of view with the coaches, so there was some good moves made with the coaching staff before England. Again, we started well in the England series and then we fell away. Again, experience played a big role and that’s where we fell short," Du Plessis opined.
With a well-gelled unit and Graeme Smith at the helm of Cricket South Africa affairs as the director, Du Plessis plans to be a steady lantern for his confidantes in the twilight of his career.
“Looking forward now, I think we’re in a position where I think we will start producing again. There are strong people in charge, plenty of experience and I think that will help South African cricket going forward," Du Plessis concluded.