Faf du Plessis says break in relationship with South Africa coach Mark Boucher pushed him to withdraw from Test – NthSports.com

In the book, du Plessis reflects on a difficult childhood, a career that began in the shadow of his best friend AB de Villiers, the heartbreaks of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups in South Africa, his rise to national captain and his eventual departure from the post. , fueled by what he calls Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) lack of soft skills, particularly in the latter stages of his career.

In a chapter titled “The Ghosts of Insecurity,” du Plessis begins to document his final stages with the national team, which began when Boucher took charge of a series against England in December 2019. Du Plessis writes that the series “was felt different.” to the above because he did not feel supported by Boucher when he faced a media barrage.

Before the second Test, du Plessis, who was out of form at the time, was asked why Temba Bavuma, that team’s only black African batsman, had been eliminated and, in his reply about Bavuma’s losing streak , commented that the national side did not see color. The comment caught fire and du Plessis was severely criticized for not understanding the nuances of South Africa’s segregated past, even as he struggled to score runs. He wrote that he didn’t feel Smith or Boucher were giving him the support he needed at the time, which set the tone for the rest of their relationship.

“I needed someone to back me up in the media, and Graeme and Mark were better positioned to clear the air and show public support for their national captain, who was dealing with headwinds and tailwinds simultaneously. When Mark attended a press conference while this storm was raging, he did not do that,” du Plessis writes.

Later in the series, Boucher asked du Plessis about his future with the national team and du Plessis committed to all three formats. However, he opted for a hiatus from the ODIs and, with the 2023 World Cup more than three years away, to retire as ODI captain. Boucher also asked du Plessis if he would relinquish the captaincy of T20, but du Plessis writes that he “was not convinced that relinquishing the captaincy of T20 was the right decision.” Du Plessis assumed that Boucher’s idea of ​​resigning as captain of the T20 was just a “suggestion”. Du Plessis spent the rest of the series “worrying that Mark and I weren’t connected on a deeper level as captain and coach”, and felt that their relationship was “somewhat cold and distant” and that he was “increasingly noticing how close which was”. with Dean (Elgar) and Quinny (de Kock)”.

Du Plessis later discovered that Smith and Boucher “felt very strongly about naming Quinny (as captain) in both cue ball formats,” which is what subsequently happened. He finished the England series feeling that he was “losing that connection to my purpose as team leader”.

After the series, du Plessis made the decision that since “Mark and I don’t hit it off” it would be “better for the team to have a new captain than someone who couldn’t connect with the coach.” He resigned the Test captaincy on February 17, 2020, but opted to stay on as a player and considered himself a “leader without a title”.

That is the headline for his next chapter, where du Plessis looks at the year between stepping down as captain and retiring from Test cricket, which has been sandwiched between the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Du Plessis writes that by this time, when South Africa played the test series against Sri Lanka at home and away from Pakistan, his relationship with Boucher had become “purely transactional” and he benefited from Boucher’s technical expertise. He went on to a career-best 199 against Sri Lanka, but struggled in Pakistan, where he discovered that “my desire and joy to play the Tests for South Africa was not what it used to be”.

Du Plessis highlights an incident that he said took place during the first Test and underscored his decision to withdraw. It was on day three, with South Africa building up a slight lead in the second innings after conceding a 158-run deficit in the first inning. The day game was drawing to a close and Keshav Maharaj was on night watch. The South African team had an unspoken rule, du Plessis writes, that they would send out a night guard if a wicket fell within 30 minutes or seven overs of play remaining in the day. But Boucher, he writes, told Maharaj that would not be necessary because the night watch only leaves 15 minutes before closing. Du Plessis, who says he told Boucher about the 30-minute precedent, had to get ready to hit and go when Rassie van der Dussen was ejected 25 minutes before the end of the day. Du Plessis lasted 20 minutes and was sacked with five minutes to go.

“Dealing with CSA during this time was like being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t value you as much as you value them. That complicated things and I had to work much harder than I should have to get them to communicate efficiently.”

Faf du Plessis in his book

“I was furious when I left the field. We had just lost a leading hitter to an avoidable tactical error. I told myself that I was too excited to address this with Mark right away and that I should go to bed, sleep and discuss it with him the next morning,” he writes.

South Africa lost the match the following day, having set Pakistan a target of 88. “In our post-match review session, I said I didn’t agree with the way we had handled the situation. For the last ten years, the batsman had had the option of a night watchman and he wanted us to discuss this. I said that I wanted to share my opinion, but that I was happy to have my position questioned. I felt that the night watchman was a trump card to use tactically when necessary but, if the team thought otherwise, they would choose what they wanted,” du Plessis writes. “The vast majority of our hitting unit said they preferred to have the option of a night watchman. Mark tried to back off, saying that back in the day fifteen minutes before the end of the game was the norm, but that’s not how I remember it. He had also played with Graeme, [Jacques] Kallis and AB, and they loved the option of not having to hit in the dark.”

This went on to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of both du Plessis and Boucher. “Mark brought up this conversation again a few months later, while we were still discussing my involvement in the [2021] T20 World Cup, and said that he didn’t like the way he had challenged him on the night watchman. Personally, I’ve always appreciated when someone challenged me on something I did or what I believed in, especially if it came from someone who wasn’t necessarily a friend. But that’s the way I am,” writes du Plessis.

Du Plessis informed Smith of his decision to withdraw from Test cricket on his return home from that series and sent a message to Boucher asking if they could meet to discuss an important matter. “He never responded to my message, nor did he contact me after the announcement was made… his silence confirmed to me that he had made the right decision to withdraw from the Tryouts.”

At the time, du Plessis was also negotiating a continued role in the T20 side, with the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups in mind. Du Plessis wanted to continue playing T20 for the national team, with a contract, and be able to compete in T20 leagues outside of his national commitments. In essence, du Plessis was asking CSA to go somewhere he hadn’t gone before: issue a T20I-only contract. Smith assured du Plessis that he would study the possibility. The CSA board ultimately decided that it would not award T20I-only contracts, but was still exploring the possibility of using du Plessis in the 2021 T20 World Cup, if he played in 65% of domestic matches.

Du Plessis, wary of league clashes and international matches, and with an IPL contract that was “not enough to cover all my financial commitments”, wanted a “formal offer that would allow me to play in fewer leagues”. He claims that Smith never communicated with him about this, which led him to accept more opportunities in the league. But, du Plessis says, he didn’t leave it there and on May 11, 2021, “he emailed Graeme, Mark and Victor Mpitsang requesting better two-way communication. He said that a communication failure had led to AB not playing in the 2019 World Cup, which turned into a media disaster. He wanted us to prevent that from happening again. So what did they expect from a player who wasn’t signed but was in contention for the World Cup? Du Plessis said he did not receive a response from any of them and that Mpitsang “has not had a single conversation with me since he was appointed to replace Linda Zondi in October 2020.”

He writes that “dealing with CSAs during this time was like being in a relationship with someone who didn’t value you as much as you value them. That complicated things, and I had to work much harder than I should have to get them to communicate efficiently. His actions made it easier for me to accept that going to the World Cup was not meant to be.” Du Plessis did not go to the 2021 or 2022 T20 World Cups, but he remains in form in the cricket league around the world.

CSA has yet to see a copy of du Plessis’s book and told ESPNcricinfo it will withhold comment until it has reviewed it.

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