‘My performances need to be better if I want to be considered as ODI captain’, says Faf du Plessis

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It is only a matter of time before du Plessis replaces de Villiers as ODI captain

South Africa Twenty20 captain Faf du Plessis has admitted that his “performances need to be better” if he is to have any chance of replacing AB de Villiers as skipper of the ODI team.

Rumours and speculation have tipped Du Plessis to replace de Villiers in the near future as he is struggling to burden his workload of being a captain, senior batsman and wicketkeeper.

However, du Plessis stated that he is not ready to take over de Villiers’ job just yet.

“My performances need to be better if I want to be considered as ODI captain,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “In Sri Lanka, I was under pressure to score runs and I knew that.”

In the last 12 months, du Plessis has represented South Africa in 21 ODIs, but has only managed to score two half-centuries – 62 not out against the Netherlands in May and 57 against New Zealand in January.

His drought extended into the shortest format of the game, but he was able to end it with a brilliant 85 in the last Twenty20 International during South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka two months ago.

“It meant a lot for me to score runs in that last T20,” he said. “I needed them badly.”

During the Sri Lanka tour, du Plessis became the first South African captain to lead his side to victory in Sri Lanka as the Proteas emerged victorious in the Twenty20 series by a 2-1 margin.

While du Plessis was completely on top of things when leading the Twenty20 squad, de Villiers was all over the place when captaining the ODI side as he struggled to make snap decisions and was often behind the over-rate, which ultimately allowed the Sri Lankans to take full advantage and thrash the Proteas 4-1.

“I love captaining and adding value in that way,” du Plessis said. “I like giving the talks that a captain gives and dealing with the high pressure times. I even like taking the flak of making decision myself, like when it comes to bowling changes. The captain needs to make tough decisions and I don’t mind making them.”

Du Plessis had only played four Twenty20 Internationals when he was handed the Twenty20 captaincy, but he immediately set about trying to restore pride and a sense of leadership.

“If you’re honest with players, they respect you,” he said. “Everybody knew we were experimenting a bit and we will try a experiment a little more because we need have our best combinations.”

South Africa have constantly been experimenting with their batting line-up over the past couple of months, but after their tour of Sri Lanka, it seems as if things are finally starting to fall into place, which is a huge relief for du Plessis.

“It’s nice to have a more stable role because before I was batting everywhere and now I am able to get used to a role,” he said.

According to du Plessis, the only batsman who can come in wherever he likes is de Villiers since he “has to bat at the most crucial part of the game” and because “he is just the best in every situation”.

With de Villiers almost certain to be stripped of the captaincy in order to balance out his workload, du Plessis is raring to get his opportunity to lead the ODI sqaud.

“AB and I are different captains and we use each other, when it comes to discussing things,” du Plessis said. “I’d love to captain the ODI side but I know it’s not going to happen at the moment.

“The captain needs to be the first name on the team sheet, so I have to make sure I am there.”

Du Plessis also believes he has done enough to secure his place in the Test side, especially after his match-saving century against Australia in Adelaide last November.

However, du Plessis was only allowed to play in that series due to the fact that Jean Paul (JP) Duminy tore his Achilles tendon.

With Duminy back and at his best once again, the race between these two flamboyant batsmen will definitely start to heat up.

“JP has done brilliantly since coming back and having him in the team only makes it stronger,” du Plessis said. “He would slot right back in.”

If Duminy is given his normal spot back, then it could mean Dean Elgar misses out when South Africa travel to the United Arab Emirates to face Pakistan in a two-Test series.

“But if Graeme (Smith) does not recover in time, Dean can just slot in at the top,” du Plessis said.

Speaking about the upcoming Test series against Pakistan, du Plessis believes South Africa will really have to bring their best, despite having already beaten the subcontinent nation 3-0 back in February.

“You just have to look at England and how easily they were beaten to know it won’t be easy,” he said. “Spin will obviously be the biggest challenge and that’s what we will be working on.”

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