Sunday, January 26, 2020

Is Faf du Plessis done?

In boxing they say Father Time is undefeated, an idiom which  essentially means that there is no fighter alive who has ever managed to defeat the onslaught of the passage of time. Reflexes get slower, the ability for the brain to tell the body what it's seeing slows just enough to allow gaps that were once huge openings now pass by without incident. 

Twelve months ago, Faf du Plessis would have been on top of the world. Sure, South Africa had just lost to Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, but they had beaten both Australia and India within 3 months of each other, and then they would go on to whitewash Pakistan to complete a rare series whitewash. There could have been an argument that had du Plessis retired then and there, he would arguably have been South Africa's greatest Test match cricket captain of all time.

 What happened next beggars belief. Firstly, Sri Lanka came to town. At the time, Sri Lanka had lost five Test matches in a row, and had only ever won one Test match in South Africa. To make matters worse, they would be touring without Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal. Not only their two most experienced players, but also their best batsmen. Didn't matter. Sri Lanka first won the first Test from one of the most improbable positions of all time, thanks to arguably the greatest Test match innings of all time from one Kusal Perera. Then they beat the brakes off a vaunted pace attack in the fourth innings of the second Test to chase down 200 without the loss of a single wicket. A disastrous World Cup followed before South Africa truly experienced darkness. As we speak it appears South Africa are about to lose their seventh Test of the summer. They've played eight. It's been a disastrous summer. That's not even taking into account the changes in the leadership structures which have seen South Africa lose major sponsors as well as half the board of directors.

All of this would be bad enough for du Plessis if he was at least scoring runs. But he isn't. He averages 19 this summer. He hasn't scored a hundred. He has not been selected for the ODI squad playing. It's hard to make a case for a captain with his recent record to stay captain, and even harder for a player with his record to stay in the team. When the two phenomena coalesce to a player who both averages 19 in his last 7 Tests, as well a captain with eight losses in his last nine... It becomes a hard sell to justify his continued play in the side. Thanks for everything Faf, we'll always have Adelaide.

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