Faf: Proteas want fearless men without ‘baggage’ for World Cup

The domestic cricket season is officially underway but one will have to wait until June for the highlight on the calendar.

The Proteas want to take young, courageous cricketers without the old baggage to the next World Cup, and much of the coming season will be dedicated to finding those players, according to the captain Faf du Plessis.

The 2018/19 season was officially launched in Centurion on Tuesday and, despite the attraction of the Test series against Pakistan, the focus of the summer will be on what happens at the end of the season – the World Cup in England.

“Our focus is not on the short-term, everything is looking ahead to the World Cup, so sometimes the team that is selected might not be the best available, but that’s how we get guys more experience ahead of our goal, the World Cup. We want to give a few guys more time and we will speed up that process now, even though our results have not been as good as we would have wanted.

“But it means we can see some young, courageous cricketers, and I believe that’s how we can win the World Cup, by losing the baggage. We don’t want the players to be limited and so mentally challenged; the mental side of things is the only hurdle we have left to conquer because we have the skills and we’ve done the planning, we’ve just lacked in mentality,” Du Plessis said on Tuesday.

The road to the World Cup includes ODIs against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at home, as well as a short tour to Australia, and Du Plessis said the matches will be used mostly to fine-tune the side mentally as well as sift through the last few pieces of the selection puzzle.

“We want to try and free up the guys mentally, so there’s no fear of failure, the players must get out there and be able to do the job, and we must equip them for that time. That extra 10-20% mentally is where we have not been as good as we could be. I’ve been to two World Cups and we’ve had different approaches in the lead-up and also mentally.

“So I’ve seen the benefits of what has worked and we will try and take from that, but I’ve also seen the bad. A few guys have shown that they are made for international cricket, they’re ready, and a few guys need more time. So we’ll probably only have a more settled team when we play Pakistan and Sri Lanka next year, then we can look more at the style of play we want for the 15-man squad,” Du Plessis said.

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