Poor performance in MSL won't cost players World Cup places‚ says Du Plessis

South African captain Faf du Plessis celebrates the win during the International Twenty20 match between Australia and South Africa at Metricon Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.
South African captain Faf du Plessis celebrates the win during the International Twenty20 match between Australia and South Africa at Metricon Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.
Image: Jono Searle/Getty Images

What to do when you’re stuck for several hours in the wasteland of the soul that is an international airport?

Submit to the sensory swamp of duty free shopping for stuff you neither need nor want that’s outrageously more expensive than the same thing in the real world.

Consume distinctly below average food and drink at stratospherically above average prices.

Try to avoid all the sneezing‚ sniffing‚ snotting people also doing so as you do so. Wonder how anyone survives a trip to the horrific smokers’ lounge.

Consider getting a massage. Feel your muscles go rigid with tension when you discover how much that would cost you.

Go to the loo.

Repeat all of the above.

Perhaps because they had run out of things to do‚ maybe because they were bored‚ or had forgotten to bring a pack of cards‚ South Africa ended up occupied — and not only in the loo sense — when they stopped over in Singapore on their journey back from Australia.

What did they do? They watched cricket.

And‚ to hear Faf du Plessis tell it‚ they were more than happy to do so: “For the first time there’s a real energy around the national side about domestic cricket.

“I can’t remember any time when the whole team got together to watch a domestic game back home online.”

That game was part of the Mzansi Super League (MSL)‚ and soon Du Plessis and the rest of the players South Africa will take to next year’s World Cup will be‚ too.

Could the tournament help the selectors decide who those players will be?

“We have an idea of probably 12 or 13 guys who are locked into that squad‚” Du Plessis said.

“But you always have to leave room for guys who come in and shoot the lights out with red-hot form.”

Might that work in reverse? Could someone who is among the all but chosen “12 or 13” play himself out of the reckoning for the final 15 with a poor performance in the MSL?

Spoiler alert: herewith a reality check.

“Not if he’s in the plans‚” Du Plessis said.

“There’s an intense heat to international cricket‚ and in a perfect world you’d always like your international players to come down [to domestic level] and perform.

“But we’ve been working a very long time to make sure we’re getting our combinations right‚ and it would be wrong to doubt that over a T20 tournament.

“It’s important that you stick with the guys you think are going to make difference‚ and leave two or three places open.”

That’s right‚ sportslovers‚ after all the suits’ serious silliness and all their marketing minions’ manufactured merriment and all the pretend passion‚ the truth about the MSL is that it is just another trivial T20 tantrum trying not to be as forgettable as the one that went before and not as random as the one that will follow.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Especially if you’re stuck in a lift or a toilet. Or an airport.

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