Francois du Plessis will make his Test debut in the second Test match between Australia and South Africa starting at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday. Du Plessis was first called up to the Proteas’ Test squad during the series against England in July, and has been entrusted with the opportunity after the withdrawal of JP Duminy through to injury.
“The fact that he’s making his debut is exciting,”captain Graeme Smith said at his pre-match press conference in Adelaide. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for Faf, he has set a high standard over the last few years, he has played a role in the one-day format and T20 format. I know he is excited to get the opportunity to play Test cricket, he has been around this group solidly since England and he has been a part of some special times. I think he is looking forward to hopefully making a mark on this team.”
Du Plessis brings the added value of being able to bat anywhere in the middle-order, and can contribute with some leg-breaks on a wicket that is expected to turn. His call-up in July came after a successful campaign in the Sunfoil Series four-day competition, where he finished as the leading run-scorer with 544 runs at an average of 68.
Smith will also welcome back Imran Tahir, who was not selected for the first Test because of the conditions at the Gabba.
“The majority of the time we like to go in with a spinner,” Smith said. “Brisbane was a slight change for us in terms of the way we go about things tactically. We are back to normal with Imran (Tahir) and I’m looking forward to him hopefully playing a big part in the Test.”
In the 12 Tests that Gary Kirsten has been in charge, the Proteas have lost only two matches (against Sri Lanka and Australia at home) and have won six with four draws. If the second match ends in a stalemate, it will be the first time since 1921 that Australia and South Africa draw two consecutive Tests.
“For us the great thing is there is respect about our performance. If we had travelled a few years ago and drawn a Test match anywhere in the world people would be raving about it. For us the disappointment in a draw is something that is good for us, it shows that people expect us to play well and to perform well, that is exciting for us,” Smith ended.