Covid-19's bonus to the Proteas: Faf's fire's been rekindled

Faf du Plessis (Getty Images)
Faf du Plessis (Getty Images)

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put various sporting codes' respective futures in peril, embattled South African cricket has surprisingly been granted a reprieve on certain fronts.

Last month, Jacques Faul, Cricket South Africa's acting chief executive, said that the timing of the outbreak on local soil had been relatively fortuitous as the domestic season was nearing its conclusion anyway.

The Proteas’ lack of planned activity also meant there would be no gaping holes in the federation's already watertight budget, meaning local cricketers have been spared pay cuts ... for now.

Then, on Monday, Faf du Plessis reinforced supporters' hope that the suspension of play would actually delay a second wave of high-profile international retirements.

Dale Steyn has previously intimated that his current inactivity might see him go on for a little while longer.

In Du Plessis' case, lockdown has merely stroked his fire again.

"I still love playing for the Proteas and being involved," he said.

"I still see myself adding huge value. Not at any stage did it cross my mind to sign any overseas deals. I'm still very keen to play for the Proteas in all three formats."

The general expectation has been that the 35-year-old veteran, still considered the kingpin of South Africa’s reasonably inexperienced batting order, would've called it a day at the conclusion of this year's ICC World T20 in Australia.

A new national contract - awarded in April - though would suggest Du Plessis is going to stick things out.

And, even if there have been signs of the Proteas' batters stepping up in his absence, his experience and proven class would make him an ideal anchor, particularly if the rookies' initial magic begins to wane.

"The hunger is still there. It's massive factor for any player," said Du Plessis.

"Lockdown has been a period of rest for me, for my body and mind. But it's also encouraging to me that I missed playing so much. That means I still love playing the game. I miss being out there, I miss batting, I miss training. I can't wait to get back out there."

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk

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