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Faf du Plessis - An overlooked genius

Faf du Plessis is a well-known player but has never been placed in the legendary list of the modern player. Let's take a look at his stats that are usually overlooked.

Last updated: 27.05.2019
Faf du Plessis | Sports Social Blog

He may not have the technical nuance you’d expect from the greatest Test batsmen. Surely, you’d think of others such as Kallis or Dravid to pick someone to bat for your life.

In fact, you’d even pick an often under-appreciated Daryl Cullinan or Wasim Jaffer to bat for you to hang on for your dear life.

Moreover, he may not have started the 360-degree range of stroke-play in cricket. Nor does he have a shot that is named after him, for instance, the Dilshan-scoop or the McCullum reverse-sweep.

But guess what?

Faf du Plessis has a better ODI average than modern-stars of the game, including Steven Smith and Kane Williamson.

He may not carry the tag that a modern-day legend, one who happens to be his opposite number in India does; that of being the best batsman in the world.

Nonetheless, Faf du Plessis, no less fit than Virat Kohli, a batsman who’s nearing an average of 60, prefers to carry himself with a bit more élan and not to forget, that typical Protean unflappability.

This is when the right-hander can rub his success on your face. Wondering what that is?

Fine. This is the scorer of the second-highest individual score by a South African batsman ever- that 185 against Sri Lanka in 2017?

How about beating an Australia- comprising of Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon, Cummins, Siddle- in his very first assignment as a South African captain at Down Under? Do your Google search or whatever search engine it is that you use and find if there was an AB De Villiers in the team then.

For a man who can garner modelling contracts by merely flexing his muscles and doing silly ad campaigns that would require nothing more from him than sport that dudish personality, Faf prefers to up the ante of his batting.

Because that is where his real job lies; on the 22 yards, in front of the public that feels an emotion regardless of whether it is Pakistani, Hindustani, West Indian, English or Aussie upon hearing the name Protea Fire.

Because at a time where he can get away by yawning in boring press conferences that often do nothing but ask rhetorical questions of its respondents, the South African captain is busy leading from the front.

Just that, he cares less about an impressive streak of consistency that he himself may not be too aware of.

So here’s the thing.

Frequent describers of South Africa as “chokers” unite. This one may hurt a lot.

Since 2016, the leader of a side that you think, at the end of the day, is about choking has a leader who has scored his ODI runs at an average of 48 (average) and above.

To a sport so in love with nicknames and fan-made labels that batsmen don’t ask of in the first place- for example, the Master Blaster for Virat (formerly, Sachin), with Williamson, Smith, Root together comprising for the “Fab Four”- does it ever occur to us that Faf’s ODI batting average is more than Steven Smith and Kane Williamson?

From 134 games, Faf’s gone on to collect 5120 runs, including 11 hundred and 32 fifties at 46.5, while Williamson, with as many hundreds as the Protean and Smith, with 8 weigh 45 and 41, respectively.

What’s more?

This year Faf’s already collected 427 runs from 9 ODI innings. To any cricket fan whose universe gives a chance to batsmen beyond Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, may want to note the understated batsman’s average.

At 71 with the World Cup just around the corner, it doesn’t seem that bad- does it?

But it could be argued that the thing with batsmen like Faf du Plessis is perhaps the lack of aesthetic pleasantness that willow-wielders like a Kohli, Williamson, and heck, even Darren Bravo bring.

The Protean can absolutely unleash himself at any given situation. This was evident in the hammering he extended to the Sri Lankans when they came visiting him on 7 Feb 2017, where a batsman whose drool-worthy chiselled physique draws comparisons with Shane Watson (save the lankiness quotient) went berserk and carved 50 per cent of South Africa’s runs.

Not that this was the first occasion in his career that began in 2011 where the Pretorian would unleash himself.

This is a batsman whose batting oozes some character, evident in the November of 2012 at Adelaide when as a Test debutant he immediately bailed out his team out with a fighting draw with stalwarts like Kallis and AB back in the pavilion.

Who saw that coming?  

This is a batsman who seems trigger happy, can gnaw at anyone, quite literally anyone, regardless of it being India or Australia.

Of his 5100 ODI runs, 980 have come against Smith and as seen recently, then Finch’s Australia with 4 ODI hundreds.

But it can be said, he’s reserved his best against Kohli’s men versus whom 658 have come from merely 13 innings, at an average of 59.

He may not be the world’s best batsman for sure. But he’s a soldier for his South Africa, a team you cannot ignore, aside world-cricket seems incomplete without.

And once he gets going- with the muscular pulls and rasp cuts, the punchy drives and the flickish pulls that only he can bring in a very craftsman-like approach, Faf du Plessis turns a bright sunny afternoon into a gloomy one bringing about.

The audience, all this while sits often motionless, often cheery in admiration, as if moved in awe whilst hearing a beating retreat you heard in films like Patton.

And that is exactly what the man will be expected to do once South Africa enter The Oval on May 31, 2019, in the campaign opener against England.

His task will be cut out. His team will be ready to fire. All eyes will be on Faf as he’ll take the ground for South Africa in his first-ever appearance as the ODI captain.

Forza, South Africa!

Faf in ODIs from 2015 onward-

884 runs from 19 innings at 58.9 in 2015, highest score of 133

578 runs from 14 innings at 48 in 2016, highest score of 111

905 runs from 18 innings at 60 in 2017, highest score of 185

434 runs from 8 innings at 62 in 2018, highest score of 125

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