Faf du Plessis 'embarrassed' by SA's Cricket World Cup display

South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson talks to his captain Faf du Plessis during a rain delay before the Cricket World Cup match against Afghanistan in Cardiff on June 15 2019.
South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson talks to his captain Faf du Plessis during a rain delay before the Cricket World Cup match against Afghanistan in Cardiff on June 15 2019.
Image: Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Faf du Plessis almost apologised on Sunday.

Not for the way his team has played at the ongoing Cricket World Cup in England and Wales but for his inability to find more words to explain why.

“We keep making the same mistakes over and over again‚” Du Plessis said at Lord’s after South Africa lost to Pakistan by 49 runs.

“Our bowling has been the one thing that's been working at this tournament‚ and today was a well below-par performance — probably bar ‘Immy’ [Imran Tahir]‚ who was exceptional once again.

“But [it was] probably a five out of 10 performance with the bowling‚ and the same thing with the bat once again.

“We’re starting our innings losing wickets again and then we build nicely and get a partnership going‚ and then a wicket [falls] and then a ball and then a wicket.

“I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over again‚ and that's really frustrating.

“It’s a confidence thing. The guys are playing with low confidence‚ and therefore making more mistakes.”

Sunday’s result marked South Africa’s fifth loss in seven games at the World Cup‚ which takes them out of the running for the semifinals.

That makes this their worst performance in the tournament. They were also eliminated in the first round in 2003‚ but they stayed alive until their last group game.

This time South Africa have been ruled out of advancing with their matches against Sri Lanka and Australia still to be played.

Du Plessis said the mounting errors and adverse results had taken a cumulative toll.

“You’re training very‚ very hard‚ and you play another game and the same thing happens again.

“You go back and you try and train hard again and you make the same mistake again.

“It chips away at your confidence. It chips away at your ego. It chips away at you as a player.

“As much as I can say or the coach can say the responsibility lies with every player to try and make sure that he comes to the park and gives everything‚ if confidence is an issue you need to sort it out yourself.

“Everyone has played the game of cricket long enough to understand that you go through highs and lows.

“The frustrating thing for us at the moment is we have got more people going through lows than highs right now‚ and therefore‚ the team confidence is low.

“From a batting point of view‚ there are a lot of guys low on runs. You need at least three out of your five guys firing in a tournament like this to be successful‚ and at the moment‚ that's not happening.

“And as I said‚ from a bowling point of view‚ as well‚ we've been lucky enough that our bowling unit has been strong for a long period of time‚ and perhaps carried some of the batting units that we've had.

“But now the fact that on a day like today when they don't bowl well‚ then it makes it really tough for us to go and chase the target down.”

Du Plessis admitted that he was at his lowest point as South Africa's captain.

“I'm a very proud player and captain‚ and playing for South Africa means a lot for me‚ and the fact that the results we're dishing out at the moment … it's really tough.

“It’s becoming a little bit embarrassing. We're trying but it's just not good enough.

“But I don't have an opportunity to go anywhere. It's important that the coach‚ myself‚ the senior players‚ are the guys who need to front up to this challenge.

“That's when your players need you the most. So right now‚ I need to be there for the other players.”

South Africa’s next match is against Sri Lanka in Chester-le-Street on Friday.

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