South Africa

Faf on timely career-best knock: This wasn’t really my best hundred

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Faf du Plessis’ team-mates sympathise after he agonisingly fell short of a double ton (Gallo Images)

  • While he did compile his highest score in Test cricket, Faf du Plessis believes his 199 in the first Test between the Proteas and Sri Lanka isn’t necessarily the best hundred he’s ever made.
  • His reasoning is pretty simple and justified – it was made against a visiting attack that at one stage only had one frontline bowler operating.
  • Du Plessis was a tad disappointed though in missing out on his double century, something he continues to dream of as a player.

While there’s no doubt he’ll savour crafting a career-best Test knock relatively late in his career, Faf du Plessis doesn’t believe his 199 in was his best overall at international level.

The 36-year-old Proteas stalwart illuminated a dominant day for the Proteas on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Centurion on Monday with a splendid 276-ball effort though it was soured to an extent by a compromised visiting attack that, at one stage, only had one fit frontline bowler available.

“I think match situations play a big role in how one rates a hundred. I certainly feel that there are better hundreds to be made, when attacks are at their strongest and the conditions are at its toughest,” Du Plessis said at the close of play.

“I don’t think this effort comes really close to any of those hundreds.”

Instead, this innings was more of a triumph in terms of him proving certain doubters wrong over his age.

For the best part of the year, Du Plessis has had to field questions over his true value to the national cause since relinquishing the captaincy last season, a process not helped by some indifferent form once he was back in the team just as a senior player.

“This innings was more about making a statement in a timely manner, just to make sure that I can say to people that doubted my ability that it hasn’t changed just because of an indifferent season or two,” he said.

“I’m consistently trying to still improve my performances. I suppose the question marks over my selection comes with the territory.

“The highest peaks tend to get the most wind, so when we as a team didn’t perform well against England last season, as captain my performances also came under scrutiny. 

“But I had a good off-season with Covid and that allowed me to plan ahead, to get myself in the best position possible to play some top-level cricket. As I said before, I still believe I have a lot to offer in all formats.”

Du Plessis was reasonably muted over his agonising dismissal.

Having looked in little trouble throughout his authoritative innings, he tamely lofted leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga to mid-on to miss out on a double century that he candidly admits remains a proverbial bucket list item.

“They brought the field up and I thought I’d just pop the ball over the fielder’s head, but I possibly hit it too straight,” said Du Plessis.

“I felt the shot was on as I tend to play it really well. The execution wasn’t as good and I was a bit tired, so maybe my intensity wasn’t where it should’ve been. Maybe I should’ve gone for a six.

“I worked extremely hard to get to 200, it’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve and to get so close obviously wasn’t ideal.”

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