A Strong Team Culture Takes Du Plessis Hopes The World Cup Renaissance > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Strong team culture keeps du Plessis hopeful of World Cup revival

"You need individuals within your side to stand up and step up and pull the team up."

Faf du Plessis was able to see the lighter side of the abandoned game against West Indies. "The horse is out of the shed," he quipped in reference to South Africa's first point of the World Cup.

It's been a tumultuous first 10 days in the tournament for du Plessis. Injuries to his lead fast bowlers, three consecutive losses coupled with the revelation of AB de Villiers' attempted u-turn can have had a severely debilitating effect on a South African captain. Du Plessis though said the "culture" within the team was strong to prevent the widening of the cracks, keeping their campaign still breathing.

"The feeling in the camp is still very strong, you know," he said. "The guys are still enjoying being on tour, enjoying being here. The guys are having fun. It is just performance-wise we haven't put in the performances we need and, generally, I find that when a team starts losing two or three games, it can happen that there's a few cracks that can appear in a team and the blame game can start.

"And I do honestly believe that we have been very far away from that. That is a strong sign of us as a team, as a culture, and that is one aspect of performance. You get culture and then you get the actual performance on the field."

The South African captain acknowledged that news of de Villiers offering to come out of retirement shook the team at first but also had the added effect of unifying the squad and giving a sense of direction to the team. "I think a little bit of both. I think to say no, it didn't, or to say yes, it did, unites us as a team. We do feel like the news came in and like went through the team," du Plessis said.

"It didn't have a huge impact. There was just a discussion on clarity and on making sure everyone knows what's going on and then it was moving on. The team was happy to get on with business. But it is stuff like that, generally you feel like it can make you, give you direction in your team and give you purpose to focus on what lies ahead."

Du Plessis revealed his version on the timelines of de Villiers's request of wanting to be part of the team's World Cup plans. De Villiers rang the captain with his plea on April 24, the night before the squad announcement and after the squad had been picked in consultation with captain du Plessis. "He didn't come to me. It was just a conversation, a phone call the night before the team got announced. It was just a "This is what I'm feeling."

"I said to him, "I think it is too late but I will check in with the coach and the selectors the next morning to get their opinion on it as the squad was already announced or picked." But that day there was the announcement. When I spoke to the coach and the selectors the next day, they all agreed that it was way, way too late to change the team on 99.99 (percent)."

South Africa will certainly be without de Villiers but were handed an injury boost in the form of Lungi Ngidi, who bowled at full tilt at the practice session before the toss on Monday. Ngidi will be central to du Plessis's plans of a late revival, which now practically has them needing to win each of their five remaining league games to stay in contention for the knockouts. The South Africa captain cited Kagiso Rabada's inspired spell against India as metric for individuals to emulate for the team's cause.

"You need individuals within your side to stand up and step up and pull the team up, you know. One guy getting a great hundred. You know KG did that against India as a small part of a role in a game. He picked the bowling unit up by just being the X-factor player that he is. So right now, we need individuals to stand up and step up to lift the team's morale. If you get that going, then other players can feed off their confidence.

"We are in this position because we haven't played our best cricket so we don't deserve to be anywhere close to the top of the log. It is very clear for us as a team we need to be at our best and we need to play well in the next five games.

"We have got Afghanistan next which is also a dangerous team. We need to start playing better cricket, more consistent and more solid cricket. If we do that, and the results start one by one happening, then this team will get a lot of confidence from that for the later stages."

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