Francois du Plessis has revealed that batting in some tough English conditions during his first season as a Kolpak player with Lancashire helped him to a first-class career best 176 for the Titans recently.
The 24 year-old South African enjoyed a sparkling week through the middle of last month, notching his best in the four-day arena and then an unbeaten 114 in a one-day match straight afterwards.
Although Faf impressed greatly in a Lancashire shirt, he will be the first to admit that he was not prolific in first-class cricket. He only recorded three fifties, and a century was the one thing that he craved.
“A hundred was the one thing I was hoping for ever since I arrived at Lancashire,” said Faf recently. “I really enjoyed my first season in England, and I scored runs without that century. So it was a massive delight for me to get two in the same week for the Titans.”
While his batting was solid, he only scored three County Championship half-centuries. He was far more prolific in the one-day arena, notching an unbeaten 93, 77 and 57, then 54 and 63.
“It was quite tough because the wickets were generally damp after all the rain we had in the summer, but it was a real learning season for me,” continued du Plessis. “There were certainly a lot of plusses about coming to England. It certainly helped to tighten up my technique, and gave me the confidence to score runs here (in South Africa).
“But as soon as I arrived back the rain continued for a few weeks, and the wickets were just what I had been used to. As the weeks went by the wickets got easier to bat on.
“I had been batting at No.3 early in the season, which was a little harder because I sometimes had to face the new ball. But then one of our batsmen, Goolam Bodi, went off to play for South Africa in the Hong Kong Sixes, and I moved down to No.5. I batted there for Lancs, and I think that suits me more.”
Following his wonder week in the middle of November, du Plessis has struggled to build on his success partly due to the fact that the Titans have hardly played because they were scheduled to feature in the Champions League Twenty20 event before terrorists hit Mumbai.
Faf was desperate to travel to the sub-continent because it would have been his first real chance to perform on the world stage in a format that he has excelled in. He won the Pro20 competition in South Africa before heading to England in early 2008, while he was a linchpin in Lancashire’s progression to the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 Cup. He excelled with both bat, ball and in the field.
He is set to return to Old Trafford next April for his second season as a Kolpakker, and believes new captain Glen Chapple will do a fine job in charge.
He added: “I said on a few occasions last summer that I learnt more off Stuey Law than anybody else, so I am obviously disappointed to see that he has left. But Chappie will do just as good a job because he is a very well respected figure by everybody at the club.
“I am really looking forward to next season because we will have a really strong squad. Signing VVS Laxman is massive for us, and I am definitely confident of success.”
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd