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Faf Du Plessis “It is always a great battle – the teams are always very competitive

South Africa's Faf du Plessis during the press conference
South Africa's Faf du Plessis during the press conference
©Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
 

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis is preparing himself for the end of an era but says there is no opponent he would rather be facing to mark the milestone than Australia.

  • South Africa looking for third victory at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup
  • Match will be final ODI for veterans Imran Tahir and JP Duminy

The Proteas’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign finishes at Old Trafford on Saturday, with the semi-finals having been out of their reach for the last couple of games.

It is simply pride they will be playing for after two wins and five losses in the competition but with Imran Tahir and JP Duminy confirming their retirement from ODI cricket following the conclusion of the World Cup, and questions also surrounding other veterans such as Hashim Amla, there is still motivation.

And for Du Plessis, the fact that it will be Australia on the other side of the square only makes the occasion all the more special.

“Once you cross the rope, Australia are my favourite team to play against,” he said. “It’s a great competition between two fierce nations.

“It is always a great battle – the teams are always very competitive. That’s why I love playing against them.

“At the moment, they are a very, very confident team sitting pretty in the World Cup, whereas we’re a little bit off where we need to be but we still need to make sure we’re giving it everything.

“We did target this game when the fixtures came out – as the last game of the group stage we thought it would be a great opportunity to play a match that is almost like a quarter-final but that’s not the case now.

“There’s still a lot to play for though. There are a few guys signing off after the World Cup. This is our last game as a unit and no-one knows what happens next.

“Playing for your country is always special and playing with guys for the last time gives me a lot of pride.”

Turning 35 in a week’s time and with more than 140 ODIs under his belt, Du Plessis knows there are also questions surrounding his own future with the Proteas.

But he doesn’t’ want to make a hasty decision in the heat of the moment, so will allow emotions to settle before deciding what his next move is.

“My plan was to commit fully to the World Cup and not think of anything else further than that,” he added. “I didn’t want my mind to start drifting, I wanted to be completely present as captain.

“Now is not best time to make decisions because you are disappointed. I wouldn’t say I’m emotional but you don’t want to be in this mode when making career decisions.

“I’ll take some time off, reflect what the future looks like for me and what my purpose is. In terms of my own game, the last year is the best I’ve played – performance-wise there are no question marks but it’s about making sure there is a lot of purpose to what I’m doing.

“I’ve had huge belief in myself over the last year, which makes it easy not to consider anything else because my purpose in captaining the team is so strong.

 “I’ll take two or three weeks after the tournament, have another look and see what the future holds.”

©Cricket World 2019