South Africa focused despite De Villiers offer to come out of retirement – Du Plessis
South Africa’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals are slim after taking just one point from their opening four matches.
Faf Du Plessis hopes the storm around AB De Villiers’ offer to come out of retirement can give South Africa the “direction” to revive their ailing World Cup.
Skipper Du Plessis insisted De Villiers’ 11th-hour bid for World Cup selection was rejected out of hand by Proteas bosses.
South Africa were handed a World Cup lifeline when their clash with the West Indies was washed out in Southampton.
Their first point after an unprecedented three straight defeats leaves Du Plessis and company arguably needing five wins from their remaining five matches to stand any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
“We do feel like the news came in camp and just went through the team. It didn’t have a big impact,” said Du Plessis, of the revelations De Villiers had offered to join the World Cup group.
“There was a discussion on clarity and making sure everyone knows what’s going on.
“But stuff like that can give you direction and purpose, to focus on what lies ahead.
“AB didn’t come to me, it was a phone call the night before the team got announced. It was just a ‘This is what I’m feeling’.
“I said ‘I think it’s too late but I’ll check in with the coaches and selectors’.
“The squad was already picked. I spoke to the coach and selectors the next day, and we all agreed it was too late to change the team.”
Defeat to the West Indies would have left South Africa with almost no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
But the point gained by default thanks to unrelenting rain now hands coach Ottis Gibson’s men a slim chance of reaching the last four, with their final five games against Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.
Another washout would likely scupper their hopes.
With the Proteas still staring down the barrel of their worst World Cup performance, Du Plessis said: “We’re in this position because we haven’t played our best cricket.
“We don’t deserve to be anywhere close to the top of the log. So we have to play our best.
We need individuals to stand up and step up morale. South Africa captain Faf Du Plessis
“We need to start playing better cricket, more consistent, more solid cricket. If we start doing that we’ll gain a lot more confidence for the latter stages.
“We need individuals to stand up and step up morale.”
Du Plessis insisted South Africa boast strong camaraderie even in the wake of their shortcomings on the field.
“I do honestly feel as a team, the feeling in the camp is still very strong,” said Du Plessis.
“The guys are still enjoying being on tour, the guys are having fun, we just haven’t put in the performances we need.
“A couple of bad results and cracks can start to appear but that honestly hasn’t happened to us.
“In that situation the blame game can start but I do honesty believe we’ve been very far away from that.
“So that’s a testament to our culture. But you get culture, and then performances.
“So it’s the performances and the skill side of cricket that needs to take over.”
Sheldon Cottrell had bagged two quick wickets to leave South Africa on the ropes at 29 for two when rain halted proceedings at the Hampshire Bowl.
West Indies coach Floyd Reifer refused to lament a victory opportunity lost, instead insisting his side will continue their aggressive approach.
England will face Chris Gayle and company in Southampton on Friday, with Reifer hoping to have Andre Russell fit for action.
“It’s unfortunate, you can’t do anything about the weather,” said Reifer.
“In terms of the point, we’ll take it. We’ll just keep playing our fearless cricket.
“‘Dre will be fit enough for the game on Friday.
“The game against England is a big game for us, and we’re looking forward to that game.
“So it was just a precautionary measure today, wrapping him in cotton wool.”