Johannesburg: He might have relinquished captaincy after one of the “toughest” seasons of his career but Faf du Plessis believes he still has the “hunger and motivation” to play all three formats of the game for South Africa.
The 35-year-old batting mainstay has committed to continue playing for the Proteas in all formats in the 2020-21 season.
“I think I have a lot of value to add. I still love playing for the Proteas and I still see myself adding huge value. I am still extremely motivated and keen to play for the Proteas in all three formats, that doesn’t change,” Du Plessis said in a audio interview released by Cricket South Africa on Monday.
“The time away from the game has made sure that the hunger for the game is still there. The big thing for players is to really love what they do,” he added.
Du Plessis handed over the captaincy in the limited-overs format to Quinton de Kock before stepping down as Test skipper.
The South African stalwart said lack of cricket during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped him realise how much he missed the game.
“Like all I am not being allowed to go out but I did get time to get couple of things in my garage before the lockdown, which has kept me busy but looking forward to go out and do some training outside once the restrictions relaxes a bit,” he said.
“The biggest reflection for me in this time of lockdown is grateful and gratitude of what I have.”
Du Plessis last featured in an ODI during South Africa’s disastrous 2019 World Cup campaign in England, where they exited in the league stages.
He termed the season gone by as one of the toughest in his overall career.
“The season gone by was one of the toughest of my career because it had different elements that was just not about cricket. We started with the World Cup which was a really tough and emotional roller-coaster. Having to deal with from front of the team,” he said.
“From there we went to India which I knew would be really tough as a team and for me as a leader as well. But I was really optimistic and was up for the fight. I knew the team needed me to be strong in that series. But the tour didn’t go as well as we would have liked.”
Du Plessis said he still misses captaincy but now forsees himself as a mentor for the younger generation.
“I love captaincy, it is a part of who I am. I have captained since the age of 13. I still look at myself as a leader before a player, so I enjoy that more than anything else.
“I will always miss it, but I do think that the time has come for me to move on to a position of growing other leaders, something that I feel is lacking in our system,” he said.
“I want to make sure I can create some sort of value towards that, helping guys with someone who is there to guide them and, if they want to, to have someone they can talk to within the team,” added Du Plessis, who won 18 of his 36 Tests as captain since taking over the role from AB de Villiers in 2016.
Stressing on the need to assist the young players to grow a new leadership group, Du Plessis said: “In terms of new leadership roles, I think it’s something that we need to make sure gets some attention.
“It’s a structure that’s not there in South African cricket. We need to start seeing the value of it (mentoring new leaders), that we start assisting players who find themselves in new roles.
“We have a lot of guys who’ve played a bit of cricket, but are relatively ‘young’ in terms of leadership. Not a lot of our players have captained a lot of games. That’s okay, you can still grow a new leadership group of five or six players that can drive the culture for the next three to four years, but they need support.”