Time Sunday Jun 06 2021

T20 leagues pose threat to international cricket: Faf du Plessis

Faf du Plessis, a member of the Quetta Gladiators, addressing a virtual press conference, in Abu Dhabi, on June 6, 2021. — Photo by author
  • Faf du Plessis says steps are needed to ensure that both T20 leagues and international cricket can co-exist in the future.
  • Says it's almost like a new tournament starting on the 9th with so many changes in teams; hopeful his team's fortunes will change.
  • Talks about Azam Khan; says cricketers don't necessarily need "six-pack" abs.

KARACHI: Faf du Plessis, the former captain of the South Africa cricket team, feels that the growing number of T20 leagues around the world are posing a threat to international cricket and there is a need to take steps to ensure both coexist.

Addressing a virtual press conference in Abu Dhabi, du Plessis told a group of Pakistani journalists he foresees cricket competitions following football’s trend.

“I think it is a threat for the international game with the power of the leagues that is growing year by year. So, I think it is important that moving forward that you try and see — it's always possible — if both can coexist,” said the former South African captain.

“If it becomes a choice, moving forward, then it can be a real threat for the international game,” said the veteran cricketer.

The South African cricketer hinted towards the possibility that in future cricket may look much like soccer, "where you have your world events, and in between, you just have these leagues around the world".

“I think that it is important that there is a way where you can you can try and work with both, otherwise, I think that the strength of other tournaments is growing insanely quick at the moment, so it is right now potentially a danger for international cricket,” said Faf, who has played 246 T20 games in different leagues around the world.

He was one of the several South African players who opted out of their national team’s international series against Pakistan to play in IPL.

The South African is currently in Abu Dhabi to represent Quetta Gladiators in the remainders of Pakistan Super League.

'Great that PSL is continuing'

The experienced batsman said that he was excited to be back playing in PSL. His side is currently at the bottom of the point table but Faf is hopeful of his team's fortunes changing.

“I think, first and foremost, it's great to just have the tournament continuing. It's just great to be back, part of the PSL. Even in a different country. I've got some good, fond memories of Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“All the teams have changed a lot. So, even the teams that are looking strong at the top of the table will have a lot of changes in their teams because of COVID and availability of overseas players. So, it's almost like it's a new tournament that's starting on the 9th of June. So, for us, what's really important is how we start again in a winning way,” the Gladiators batsman said.

Talking about the level of competition in Pakistan Super League, Faf said that he was surprised to see the number of fast bowlers the league was offering.

“I was blown away that there were three guys in every team that could go quick. So fast bowling really is obviously a part of the culture of Pakistan cricket. There's some young talent in batting but definitely the standard is the fast bowling.

“The PSL, in the long run for cricket and Pakistan, would be hugely beneficial because you're getting opportunities to play with guys like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell. Whoever you know, guys like myself, there's so much experience that you can gain from,” he said.

'Successful cricketers don't need six-packs'

He also backed his Gladiators teammate Azam Khan, the young batsmen who’s recently named by selectors in the Pakistan squad.

In response to a question about Azam Khan’s fitness, Faf du Plessis said that one doesn’t need a “six-pack” to be a successful cricketer.

"For someone like him [Azam Khan], he doesn't have to look like me to be successful. It will just be small, small improvements every day. It might be something small right now, it might be something like fielding that he could focus on right now. He's a guy that will always come in and be a power hitter and hit the ball a long way.”

“And obviously, in terms of what he needs to work on this would be okay. I'm not a believer that every guy has to have six-pack abs in order to be a successful cricketer. I think you work with what you have.

"There's been guys long before me and even after me and him that will all look different, but they will have the skill sets to perform in international cricket. So yeah, it's just about small improvements every day,” Faf said.

'Sarfaraz tries to get the best out of his players'

On a question about captaincy of Sarfaraz Ahmed, the former South African captain said that Sarfaraz tries to bring the best out of his players.

“From the outside, I always thought that he was screaming at his players while playing against him in international cricket. But playing with him now, you almost see a different side and your perspective changes, that it is his way to keep the players at the top of their game.

“As long as your style is to try and get the best out of your players in your team, then that's good. And obviously he has got the best out of players in Pakistan because he was captain for so long and also won a Champions Trophy so you must be must be doing something right to get the best out of the players,” the South African cricketer said.

Time under quarantine

Talking about time in quarantine, the South African said that it is important that you put some sort of plan in place for yourself to make sure that you stay mentally healthy.

Faf revealed that in bubbles, he makes sure that he brings with him as much of the stuff that he’s used to at home so that he can set up his room as close to what it is like at home.

He also shared his quarantine experience during IPL when he was accompanied by his family.

“Going to the IPL, taking my family and two kids with me, doing quarantine for seven days in a room with two kids, I can tell you it's much harder than facing the world's quickest bowler with a new ball,” he quipped.

World Cups

Replying to a question, the former South African cricketer termed West Indies and India as the favorites to win the T20 World Cup tournament.

He also praised ICC’s decision to increase the numbers of teams in World Cups saying that such steps will provide great opportunity to cricketers from smaller nations to showcase their talent and win professional contracts in various leagues.

Future plans

Faf du Plessis said that he’s currently enjoying cricket and feels that he can play for another three years.

“I want to push myself as much and as long as I can. I've got a three years goal — that I want to play for at least for three years. I feel that I'm in great condition physically; almost feel like I'm fitter than I've ever been before,” he said.


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