The return of Faf du Plessis gives coach Mark Boucher a welcome selection headache

Faf du Plessis has not played an ODI match for the Proteas since the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.
Faf du Plessis has not played an ODI match for the Proteas since the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Finding a place in the batting line-up for former captain Faf du Plessis in SA's three-match ODI series against India has given coach Mark Boucher a welcome selection headache.

The Proteas’ programme on the sub-continent starts on Thursday in Dharamshala and it continues to Lucknow on Sunday with the last match scheduled for Kolkata next week Wednesday.

Boucher said it’s a no-brainer to have Du Plessis‚ who was rested for the 3-0 series whitewash over Australia‚ in India even though his availability has come with its own set of challenges.

The SA coach turned to Jon-Jon Smuts‚ Janneman Malan‚ Kyle Verreynne and Heinrich Klaasen when the South Africans faced Australia and they returned with satisfactory performances in the top and middle order in Du Plessis' absence.

But counting in Du Plessis' favour is the fact that Smuts‚ Malan‚ Verreynne and Klaasen have played 28 matches between them while the former skipper has featured in 143 matches since his debut in 2011.

“His (Du Plessis) availability is a bit of a headache for me at the moment but it is a good headache to have‚” said Boucher‚ adding that conditions in India would have a bearing on which players are going to be selected in his starting line-up.

“Just having him around the squad will add a lot of value because of his experience. But we will have a look at the conditions and put combinations together with regards to the batting line-up.”

Du Plessis' vast knowledge of the conditions in India‚ where he has also played in the IPL‚ is another factor that could see him feature in his first ODI since the inconsequential World Cup win over Australia last year in Manchester.

“He knows the Indian conditions very well.

"(So) why would you not want to have Faf in your set-up when he has done very well in those conditions?

"If you go to a place like India‚ you need a balance of youth and experience and I think generally he has done very well for SA in ODI cricket.

"I think that in the last match he played for the national team he got a hundred.

“India is going to be a tough test for us because of the different conditions and the fact that a lot of guys have not played cricket there.

"What’s impressed me during the summer at home is that guys have responded to the messages we have been sending out from a bowling and batting perspective‚ and the change of mindset.

"There were a lot of players who stepped up and took their opportunities.

"That is causing me a good headache with regards to selecting the eleven.”


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