Faf: Durban loss ignited 'angry' Proteas backlash

Faf du Plessis (Gallo)
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Johannesburg - It will go down as one of the most intense series Test cricket has ever seen, but in the end the record books will show that the Proteas emerged as 3-1 winners over Australia. 

The tense nature of the series, unfortunately, was not down to the cricket alone. 

There was controversy from the first Test in Durban, when CCTV footage emerged showing an off-field altercation between David Warner and Quinton de Kock. 

That was the moment that set the series off on the wrong course, and when Kagiso Rabada was banned, and then un-banned, for his shoulder brush on Steve Smith in Port Elizabeth, things escalated even more. 

Australian coach Darren Lehmann then blasted South African supporters, and the Newlands crowd in particular, a disgrace for their behaviour during the third Test. 

That was the day before Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, and later David Warner, admitted to being involved in the ball-tampering incident that would emerge as the biggest news story to come out of the entire series. 

The Proteas, finally out of the limelight, never looked back as they bossed the Aussies into submission in Cape Town and then Johannesburg to claim a famous series win. 

But, according to Du Plessis, the fire in the bellies was ignited after the side's 118-run loss in Durban and the hype that followed. 

"We were extremely motivated before this series and up for the challenge, but there was definitely a shift in mindset after that first Test," Du Plessis acknowledged.

"We almost went from motivated to motivated/angry to try and turn it around.

"The guys were really pumped after that first game and for the first time I could feel all XI guys were really looking forward to the next Test to try and make a play in the series. That was a turning point for us mentally."

Du Plessis and the Proteas could not have known how much more drama was around the corner, but looking back he believes his charges dealt with everything as best they could.

"We deal with emotions well. I don’t feel we are emotionally immature," he said.

"I think we handle ourselves in the right way, even though there were times in the game where things would get a little heated.

"There were a lot of incidents throughout this series, but after every day we would sit in the changeroom and I would sense there was a calmness to our emotions and we were really just focused on winning games of cricket."

The result is that Du Plessis has led a South African Test team to a home series win against Australia for the first time since 1970.

"This means a lot to us. We did speak briefly about it this morning, that there is a nice opportunity to go down in the history books," he said.

"But for me, this series is the best we have been right through a series. We have been winning a lot of series, but there were little holes where we could improve.

"I felt this series was incredible in the way we put it all together. A lot of guys put their hands up at different stages, so it was a collective effort."


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