TELFORD VICE in Hamilton
SOUTH Africans in airport luggage halls who see a surfboard that has Faf du Plessis’ name on it should not be confused. They should be grateful.
It’s keeping South Africa’s test captain afloat in a sea of cricket that offers fewer islands of respite with each passing season.
“I’ve taken up surfing as a way to get away from the game,” Du Plessis said. “You have to find something on a cricket tour.
“Just being in your room doesn’t get you away from the game, because you’re playing shots in your room and worrying about your technique.”
South Africa’s tour of New Zealand, which started when they left home on February 11, is scheduled to end on Wednesday.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) starts on April 5 and will involve Du Plessis among seven of South Africa’s key players.
In the second week of May, South Africa will reassemble for a tour to England that is scheduled to finish on August 8.
Scary stuff, or what?
“It’s very daunting, and it’s going to be a big challenge for me to make sure that even after the IPL that, mentally, I’m as fresh as I can be and as driven and as motivated to try and best at my best every single day for South Africa,” Du Plessis said.
JP Duminy has taken the other option and pulled out of this year’s IPL.
“JP has decided he needs to get some time with family and move away from the game a little bit, and get some time to focus on doing his best for South Africa,” Du Plessis said. “We respect that.”
Had Du Plessis considered doing the same?
“I still feel fresh,” he said. “I’m actually not to worried about the IPL happening in a week’s time.
“I know that for a week after this I won’t have anything to do with cricket, and then the IPL mania will start and it will be busy for a time.
“But somewhere in the middle there I’ll find some time to make sure that I’m at my best again.”
Perhaps at least partly because he won’t earn the R7.8-million Du Plessis will make playing for the Rising Pune Supergiants, Russell Domingo offered a different view.
“To go from here to India, come home for three days, then go to England for three months, I suppose it’s a 21-year-old’s dream if you’re not married,” Domingo said.
“I suppose if you’re 30 and married with kids it’s a nightmare.”
Not that Domingo wasn’t a fan: “When I go back home for my six weeks’ holiday I love watching the IPL.
“But I don’t have to play in it and travel in it – that’s the challenge.”
Morne Morkel has also taken himself out of the tournament this year, putting re-establishing his international career following a back injury ahead of another bumper payday.
But AB de Villiers, who has withdrawn from South Africa’s test series in New Zealand and England, will be there.
Before you slam him for that, ask yourself whether you would be willing to give up the R18.5-million Royal Challengers Bangalore will pay him.
Who wouldn’t want to ride that wave all the way to the beach?