Abu Dhabi: Former South African skipper Faf du Plessis has defied the age to be one of the fittest players in world cricket today. The veteran batter, who has been out of favour in whiteball cricket since he retired from Test cricket in February 2021, has been one of the top performers in franchise cricket across the world. He has been topping the charts in the Indian Premier League over the last few years and also been in good touch for Morrisville Samp Army in the Abu Dhabi T10.
Now du Plessis is eyeing an international return to the South African white ball set-up as the Proteas face a three-match series against India at home before the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA in June next year.
“I believe that I can return to international cricket. We have been speaking about this for the last couple of years. It’s just about figuring the balance of the T20 World Cup next year. It’s certainly something we have spoken about with the new coach. Watch this space,” du Plessis told the prematch broadcast ahead of Samp Army’s six-wicket win over Bangla Tigers in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Missing Faf's experience
South Africa certainly missed an experienced player like du Plessis during the recent 50-over World Cup, where they struggled to chase down targets. Du Plessis has the capability to anchor the innings and with numerous stroke-makers around, he could have been the missing link in the jigsaw puzzle. The South Africans failed to end their barren run in the World Cup. Despite producing some high-class performance during the tournament, they lost to eventual champions Australia in the semi-finals.
The 39-year-old continues to be one of the fittest players in cricket at the moment — despite his age. On being asked about his workout routine, Faf said: “I do a lot of hard work to ensure I look after my body to be able to play this brilliant game I love so much. When you do get a little bit older, you have to make sure you put in the work. Otherwise, the hamstring and other body parts do not work that well. There is a lot of fast running and a lot of stuff to make sure that level where you can play against the best players in the world.”
This is the second time that the former South Africa captain is competing in the Abu Dhabi T10. Speaking on his experiences of playing cricket’s fastest format, Faf said: “It is certainly easier the second time around. The first time I came, I was thinking that T20 and T10 are very similar, but it’s not. It’s very different. My first year was very much a learning opportunity. Now I am a little bit more comfortable, slogging from the first ball.”
Kohler-Cadmore's blistering knock
Electing to bowl, Qais Ahmad and Salman Irshad helped Samp Army restrict Bangla Tigers to 82 in 10 overs in the 20th match of this season. While Ahmad bagged three wickets for 14 runs, Irshad took three wickets for 12 runs. They were backed by Karim Janat with two wickets for four runs.
Chasing the target, Andries Gous hit a breezy 42 off 20 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. Later, skipper Moeen Ali with an unbeaten 12 and Najibullah Zadran (13no), steered Samp Army to the target in 8.2 overs.
In the second match on Tuesday, Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s blistering 69 off 19 balls studded with a shower of eight sixes and four boundaries, and Nuwan Thushara’s four-wicket spell blew Northern Warriors away by eight wickets at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Put in to bat, Northern Warriors could muster only 100 for 6 with the Sri Lankan pacer claiming four wickets for just 12 runs. This win helped Deccan Gladiators unseat Samp Army from the top of the table.
Samp Army bt Bangla Tigers by 6 wkts. Bangla Tigers 82 in 10 overs (Jordan Cox 27, Karim Janat 2 for 4, Qais Ahmad 3 for 14, Salman Irshad 3 for 12) Samp Army 85 for 4 in 8.2 overs (Andries Gous 42). Player of the match: Qais Ahmed.
Deccan Gladiators bt Northern Warriors by 8 wkts. Northern Warriors 100 for 6 in 10 overs (James Neesham 31, Angelo Mathews 29, Nuwan Thushara 4 for 12) Deccan Gladiators 104 for 2 in 6.1 overs (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 69no). Player of the match: Nuwan Thushara.