Faf du Plessis admitted that Kyle Abbott’s Kolpak deal that ended his international career had been a disruption ahead of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka starting at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Thursday (January 12). But the South African captain said that the team has put the issue behind them and shifted their focus towards completing a clean sweep in the series.
Abbott had his Cricket South Africa contract cancelled immediately after he revealed during the second Test in Cape Town that he had signed a Kolpak contract with Hampshire. He was one of the three high profile cricketers to have taken the call, the other two being Rilee Rossouw and David Wiese.
“It’s definitely had an effect,” said Du Plessis. “It’s taken a bit of the shine off our Test series win but it’s time to move on and build a new bowling attack.”
Du Plessis said South Africa had failed to take an opportunity for a clean sweep in Australia last month. “In international cricket you have a lot of tough times,” he explained. “You don’t get opportunities like this very often. It is an opportunity to do it now.”
Du Plessis said Wayne Parnell, the left-arm seamer, would replace Abbott but he also did not rule out a first cap for Duanne Olivier, 24, in an all-seam attack. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him bowl but there’s something there,” he said.
Du Plessis praised Hashim Amla, who will make his 100th Test appearance on Thursday, and said he was not concerned about the batsman’s recent string of low scores. “He has been the rock of our batting. Together with Jacques Kallis he has probably been the most consistent player South Africa has ever had,” he stated. “He brings a calmness to the dressing room and adds a lot of value. He’s had two lean periods in his career, but we know that a double century is just around the corner.”
Du Plessis felt that Amla could be the last South African to play 100 Tests in a long time to come.
“I am going to make a big call and say Hash is probably going to be the last guy that plays 100 Tests for South Africa because of the way that the game is changing. Quinnie (Quinton de Kock) and KG (Kagiso Rabada) are possibly looking at that as youngsters but it’s a long way into the future,” suggested du Plessis. “It’s a massive call to make. Test cricket these days, the game has evolved so much. If you look at Hashim and AB (de Villiers) and Jacques (Kallis) and Graeme (Smith) and all those guys, it was a period of a lot of Test cricket that was played over a long period of time.
“Now, there’s lots of T20s, so I think the game is changing a little bit, that you won’t play for as long because there is so much more cricket,” he added. “What I mean by that, is that it’s really special for Hash to do something like that. I’m not going to get to 100. The guys in the team that are playing now, JP, all those guys, it’s something we will never get to.”