TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
IT was two days before Valentines Day, but Faf du Plessis wore pink underwear anyway.
February 12, 2016 was also the day South Africa played England at the Wanderers in the pink one-day international – cricket annual event to raise awareness about breast cancer.
Last year, as in the preceding three years, a visually startling amount of South Africa’s most brutalist cricket stadium was coloured a furious flavour of fuchsia.
Which was not unlike turning the corner into a dark alley to encounter a nightclub bouncer in a tutu.
Or seeing Du Plessis yank down the waistband of his playing pants to reveal, with a wink and a smile, the pinkest of underwear.
Du Plessis and the rest of South Africa’s gang will be back at the Wanderers on Saturday to play Sri Lanka in this year’s pink ODI – which coincides with World Cancer Awareness Day.
That should be memorable enough, but Du Plessis will have another reason to be in the pink: the match will mark his 100th ODI.
“Growing up you always want to believe you can play a game for your country and to play a hundred is something special,” David Miller said of the player he shared a century stand with in the second ODI against the Lankans at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
“Doing it on the pink day will make it even more special; it’s going to be a packed house.”
But the meaning goes beyond marketing for a man who, as South Africa’s test and T20 captain, has become integral to the new approach they have built from the rubble of their semi-final exit from the 2015 World Cup.
“He brings a lot of maturity to the team as well as that consolidation as a batsman,” Miller said.
“That gets us through tough times.
“His leadership on and off the field has been something I’ve really enjoyed.
“Even if he’s not captain (in AB de Villiers’ ODI side) he still has that leadership role.
“He’s brought a lot to the team in the last couple of years.”
Both Miller and Du Plessis scored centuries at Kingsmead to set up South Africa’s 121-run win.
But, at 27, Miller is better placed to recover from the more than two hours he spent at the crease in time to be fit and firing at the Wanderers than Du Plessis, who is 32 and batted for almost three hours in Durban’s heat and humidity.
Not that protesting muscles and creaking joints bothered Du Plessis.
“Someone once told me that if you fear getting hit on the finger or if you fear when you fall, that’s when you are going to get hurt because you go into it 50-50,” he said. “If you go into it balls to the wall then …
“The next two days will be a write off for me and then we’ll come back for the next game and I will do it again.”
And don’t forget the pink underwear.