We have to go right back to the beginning of last week to find the winner of this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award. On the final day of the second Test between Australia and South Africa in Adelaide, Faf du Plessis, on debut, played the innings that may well come to define his career.
He resumed day five on 19 not out with South Africa, on 77 for four, needing an unlikely 353 more to beat Australia or, as it turned out, having to bat 98 overs with only six wickets in hand.
Batting all day against one of world cricket’s better bowling attacks is a task which would have tested the technique and temperament of even the most experienced and proven performer. However, du Plessis, who some said prior to the match wasn’t suited to Test cricket, reined in his natural attacking instincts and, by the time the match was drawn, had faced 376 balls for his 110 runs.
Looking back on South Africa’s Test tour of Australia, it is clear to see that du Plessis’ final day effort changed the direction of the series. Prior to it, Australia had had the upper hand, but afterwards, having forced the tourists to rest their first choice bowing attack for the final Test, it was South Africa who took control and were ultimately victorious.
Du Plessis, no wide-eyed newbie at 28 years of age, may struggle to match his effort on day five at the Adelaide Oval for the rest of his career. Alternatively, it may prove to be the springboard for him to become one of the greats of South Africa’s post-apartheid era. South Africa will certainly hope it is the latter.
There was plenty of competition for du Plessis last week, however, with Tim Southee and Trent Boult both shining for New Zealand as they levelled the Test series against Sri Lanka. Boult ended with match figures of seven for 75, while Southee took eight for 120.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi debutants Sohag Gazi (seven for 50 in two matches) and Anamul Haque (41 and 120) were the architects of their side’s unexpected twin victories at the start of the One-Day International series against the West Indies.
And, in South Africa’s third Test against Australia, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers both hit big hundreds as they retained their number one ranking - one which would have fallen without du Plessis’ final day exploits a few days earlier in Adelaide.
© Cricket World 2012
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