Du Plessis hopes De Villiers row puts SA campaign back on track - GulfToday

Du Plessis hopes De Villiers row puts SA campaign back on track

South-Africa

South African players attend a training session at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Agence France-Presse

Faf Du Plessis hopes the controversy over AB De Villiers’ attempt to come out of retirement for the World Cup can fuel his side’s bid to rescue their spluttering campaign.

South Africa’s World Cup hopes are hanging by a slender thread after Monday’s match against the West Indies was abandoned due to rain in Southampton. It was the latest blow for South Africa captain Du Plessis, who had presided over three successive defeats before the weather ruined the West Indies game.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, South Africa also had to spring into crisis-management mode when it was revealed last week that former star batsman de Villiers offered to come out of retirement on the eve of the World Cup squad being announced.

De Villiers’ approach was snubbed by South Africa’s Cricket chiefs and Du Plessis claimed the row over whether or not he should have been selected could actually bring the squad closer together.

“We do feel like the news came into the camp and just went through the team. It didn’t have a big impact,” Du Plessis told reporters.

“There was a discussion on clarity and making sure everyone knows what’s going on.

“But stuff like that can give you direction and purpose, to focus on what lies ahead.

“The squad was already picked. I spoke to the coach and selectors the next day, and we all agreed it was too late to change the team.”

Defeat to the West Indies would have left South Africa with almost no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. But, with five games left, the Proteas are still in danger of their worst World Cup performance and Du Plessis said: “We’re in this position because we haven’t played our best Cricket. We need individuals to stand up.

“We don’t deserve to be anywhere close to the top of the table. We need to start playing better Cricket, more consistent, more solid Cricket.”

Du Plessis insisted South Africa still boast good spirit in the wake of their poor performances against England, Bangladesh and India.

“I do honestly feel as a team, the feeling in the camp is still very strong,” he said.

“A couple of bad results and cracks can start to appear but that honestly hasn’t happened to us.

“In that situation the blame game can start but I do honesty believe we’ve been very far away from that.”

Meanwhile, South Africa batting coach Dale Benkenstein has warned his struggling side to adapt to the unique demands of the World Cup or face an embarrassing exit.

With minnows Afghanistan next on the schedule in Cardiff on Saturday, Benkenstein says South Africa’s players must learn how to prepare for the challenge on playing different opponents in each match.

The World Cup’s round-robin group stage, where all 10 teams play each other once, is far different from the usual block of matches against the same opponent that national sides have on their tours. So far, they have failed with the challenges posed by England, Bangladesh and India.

“The difference in tournaments to international Cricket is that in regular series you play the same opposition four or five times so you have an opportunity to start slow, to sum them up and then you can take them down,” Benkenstein said.

“Here, you are playing one-off games. You are playing on different wickets and against different teams in every match.

“I really feel we are one game away from getting things right. Then the confidence levels will be up there and we may peak at the right time.”

South Africa have never faced Afghanistan in an ODI before and must win to keep alive their slender hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Benkenstein wants to see the batting line-up spend more time at the crease, especially as no South African batsmen has scored a century in the tournament.

“The message is that the batters have got to step up and we haven’t,” he said.

“I feel like we are batting well but we just haven’t done it long enough. Everyone has got in.

“We’ve had opportunities to have hundred partnerships and win matches but we haven’t done it.

Agence France-Presse