Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers has announced that batsman Faf du Plessis is in the best form of life at the moment after he scored three centuries in the ongoing ODI tri-series against Zimbabwe and Australia.
De Villiers also confirmed that du Plessis has done more than enough to convince him that he deserves to come in at number three.
“It’s certainly the best form he’s shown at international level, but I’ve always known that he was capable of doing that,” de Villiers said. “So it’s great to see him coming through like that, and at a crucial time. Leading up to a big World Cup, it’s great to have our No.3 slot cemented down now by a guy who’s in great form and a guy with a great cricket brain. He played exceptionally well again, in a tricky situation against Zimbabwe again. It set us up nicely for a good ODI win.”
De Villiers was also pleased to see Jean Paul (JP) Duminy and Rillee Rossouw support du Plessis with scores of 51 and 36 respectively.
“It was good to see Rilee get in and get 30 and bowl a couple of overs,” de Villiers said. “We laid the foundation up front there, and it freed up the middle order a little bit. It’s difficult to go three or four down early in the innings and expect them to fix everything, which we’ve done in the past. So to get a nice foundation laid out for us like that always frees up the middle order to really showcase their talents.”
De Villiers also defended his decision to drop spinner Imran Tahir and replace him with Rossouw, stating that the Proteas had to put up a big score to ensure Zimbabwe wouldn’t pull off another stunning victory.
The 30-year-old added that left-arm pace bowler Wayne Parnell was the perfect replacement for all-rounder Ryan McLaren, who recently flew back to South Africa after Australia pace bowler Mitchell Johnson broke a bone in his forearm.
“It was just the situation we were confronted with because of the whole bonus point issue and this and that,” de Villiers said. “We felt it was really important to get runs on the board, which worked exceptionally well. We sort of batted them out of the game and that’s exactly what we were after.
“Macky [McLaren] is an amazing performer for us and he has been for quite some time now so it’s sad to lose him, but in the same breath, Parny [Parnell] is a very capable replacement. No one is irreplaceable. We know Macky will be back in three or four weeks’ time and he’ll come straight back into the side, but for now we’ve got more than enough depth to fill that spot. Parny showed today – he had a very good game, I was very impressed with his bowling. We all know what he can offer with the bat. He can score a few at the end there. It was a straight swap for me, no panic stations there.”
South Africa will now face Zimbabwe during the 2015 World Cup, and while there were no upsets when both sides met this time around, de Villiers is still refusing to underestimate them, especially after they beat Australia earlier this week.
“They’re still a dangerous team with lots of talent,” he said. “They’re obviously still working on a few things, trying to get a few things in place. Leading up the World Cup as well, I think all the teams are focusing on that now. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Zimbabwe’s cricket. I think they’ve got a lot of talent, they just need to get the combinations in place, and a few other things. Get their batters in the runs. They’ve got all the talent in the world, they just need to get into the runs. That’s what it comes down to.
“We have not had a lot of time to mingle but I have spoken to a few of them – Brendan Taylor is one, we go a long way back. At the end of the day we’re playing them in the World Cup so you don’t want to share too much. We’re good friends with a few of them, but cricketing wise we’re playing them in the World Cup so we don’t want to share too many things. There’s more than enough time for socialising after the Aussie game – Brendan has already told me that a few of them will be coming to watch. They’re after all our neighbours in Africa so we’re huge supporters of their cricket. Just not in the World Cup.”