Proteas captain Faf du Plessis admitted to his frustration that his team just make the same mistakes over and over following their elimination from World Cup contention at Lord’s at the weekend, and said the players themselves need to start taking responsibility because there’s only so much he feels he can do as captain.
South Africa succumbed to a 49-run defeat to Pakistan and, with five defeats in seven games, they have no chance of reaching the semi-finals. Lowly Afghanistan are the only side they have managed to beat. Against Pakistan, they produced a messy, lacklustre bowling display similar to the one they dished up against Bangladesh, before clawing their way back at the death to leave themselves with a target of 309, which was certainly gettable. But Pakistan bowled much better than they did, and their batsmen once again made starts, with five of them getting to 30, but no-one scoring more than Du Plessis’ 63.
“It’s been like a snowball effect and we do the same things again and again. It chips away at your confidence and your ego because we are trying very hard, but the same thing happens, we make the same mistakes. But at the end of the day, the responsibility is with every player to come on to the park and give everything. You need to sort yourself out.
“It’s important for me, the coaches and the senior guys to front up and be there for the other players, but everyone has played long enough to know that there are highs and lows in cricket, but what’s been frustrating is that we have more players on a low at the moment. To do well in a World Cup, you need guys in form, you need a couple to hit a purple patch. The teams that are doing well have guys who are consistently shining – and we only have Imran Tahir,” Du Plessis said.
The 34-year-old admitted that he does worry that their dismal performances at the World Cup will see his own legacy as a much-admired captain, as well as those of stellar players such as Hashim Amla, get tarnished.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t get worried about it. As a player I am very proud, but I most enjoy my cricket as captain, I love captaincy. The fact that we have really under-performed does not sit well with me, I have too much pride for that. But it’s not all in my hands, although I try to fix as many areas as I can. But I can’t wave a wand and get runs for the batsmen.
“The biggest thing for me is that when I put my head on the pillow at night I need to know I have done everything I could, then I have to leave the rest up to the players. We’ve done as much in preparation as we can, although one area we probably can do more in is making sure our fast bowlers get more rest, but that’s not in my hands,” Du Plessis said.