Despite producing some quality players over the years, the four-time semi-finalists have never qualified for the final of a World Cup. Du Plessis was part of the side that suffered a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the 2015 semi-final, but he wants his players to travel to England and Wales without any burden.
“For me, you can see in the current group there is some young, courageous players in there,” said du Plessis. “I believe that is the way we’ll win the World Cup; to really go there without all the baggage and go ‘these are the most talented and courageous cricketers’ and play a style of cricket that doesn’t limit us from being so mentally challenged by going to a World Cup every time.”
The 34-year-old also acknowledged that South Africa have previously failed to overcome the hurdle of mental aspect in the bigger tournaments and it's an area where they will have to work on.
“Because, let’s be honest, that’s probably the only hurdle we haven’t overcome is the mental aspect of it," he pointed out. We’ve always been skilfully right up there, just lacking in crucial aspects of the game. That’s why my message is to free players up mentally, try get them to a space where they’re not fearing failing.
“I’ve been involved in two World Cups now where we’ve tried two different approaches, from leading up to the tournament and a mental approach. I certainly have seen the good, the benefits, and bad from both of them.”
Taking an example out of Pakistan's book, du Plessis said strike bowlers are going to play a huge role in the World Cup.
“I think if you look at Pakistan who won the Champions Trophy, your bowling unit is going to play a massive role,” he said. “We went there [Champions Trophy] with probably the best batting line-up in the world - I think we had four of the top ten batters, so we were feeling very confident in the batting unit we had. But the ability to get wickets in those conditions seemed to be the ten percenter, so that’s why we’re looking at guys who can get you wickets at any stage of a game.
“From a batting point of view, try and have as long a batting line-up as you can. That’s probably why England will call themselves favourites, because they have a very long batting line-up. It’s a little different with our team, we don’t have those guys who are all-rounders.”
Du Plessis also confimed that Dale Steyn, who last played an One-Day International in October 2016, still remains a part of South Africa's plans for the next year's tournament. However, he thinks the spots are wide open for all the pacers.
“Yes I do,” said du Plessis when asked whether he saw Steyn featuring in South Africa’s World Cup plans. “We probably need one more fast bowler. You probably need three fast bowlers in your squad, over the next two series, we’ll see who grabs that opportunity.”
First Published: September 5, 2018, 11:05 AM IST