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July 5, 2019

Faf du Plessis

Manchester, England, UK

THE MODERATOR: Afternoon, everybody. Faf is ready. Thank you very much.

Q. Faf, there's been quite a dramatic sort of reversal of fortunes between the two sides from say 18 months ago when, clearly, the Proteas had the upper hand over Australia and, you know, I think the record is you have won eight of the last 11 games. Do you think it is fair to say all the momentum has turned around and it's in Australia's favour at the moment and what does that say about sport and the World Cup in general?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Sure, I think to say that it's been heavily in favour of us -- maybe the scoreline says that but the last series certainly against Australia was a really, really close one, 2-all going into the last, and then putting together our best game of the series in that last game.

And then obviously the World Cup. I think the fact that Australia's been boosted by the two guys coming back into their batting line-up has made them a pretty complete team. There's not many holes in their team now and they've played some really good cricket at this World Cup.

But I think they have some nice confidence also leading into the World Cup, beating I think it was Pakistan, pretty convincingly, and playing well in India as well.

Yeah, but obviously, as you rightly say, they are a very, very confident team probably right now and we probably just are a little bit off where we need to be, but in saying that, once we cross that rope tomorrow, playing against Australia is certainly, for me, you know, my favourite team to play against.

It's a great competition between two fierce nations, so, yes, they are looking pretty where they are sitting in terms of the World Cup, but we are still going to make sure we give it everything.

Q. Faf, when the fixtures came out 18 months ago, whatever it was, was this fixture one that you immediately identified as one that could potentially make-or-break your tournament? Was it always going to be a massive one? And how disappointing is it that it's not?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Yes, we did. We did exactly look at the last game of the World Cup especially with, as I mentioned the other day, the two less teams going into the final stages, it is not a quarterfinal tournament anymore, it is only a top four.

And when we looked at it, it was like "Sure, Australia in the last game will be a great opportunity for possibly one or two of the teams to play the last game almost like a quarterfinal" but it isn't the case now.

Yeah, as I said, we'll still make sure tomorrow's -- there's a lot to play for for us. The discussions within the team is that there's a few guys signing off after this World Cup, it's the last time that we are together as a unit and no-one knows what is going to happen after this tournament and just making sure that we put a lot of pride into that.

Obviously playing for a country is always really special, but losing a few players that won't be together with us in the field again gives me great, not confidence, but a lot of pride to play for for those guys tomorrow.

Q. Are you concerned that the end of this World Cup cycle could mean another sort of glut of Kolpak departures and is there anything that Cricket South Africa or the ICC can do to help?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Good question. I don't -- the ICC certainly not. Cricket South Africa, I know they have been trying to put things into place. There's two, there's almost two groups of players when it comes to South African cricketers. There's I suppose your more of your Test players. For them the Kolpak option is the dangling carrot and then more your white-ball specialist is probably the circuit, the T20 circuit around the world.

So both of those areas is big concerns for cricketers in South Africa. So I think more looking at the one-day side, your players that will move on from the Proteas would potentially move on to the T20 circuit, maybe bar one or two, but that is generally where the opportunities lie for the white-ball players.

So I think, naturally, with some of the guys finishing, they'll do that. I know JP's plan is to play one or two tournaments before he finishes. Certainly, that will become the biggest issue for us to try and stay away from for all players and that's, you know, including myself.

Q. The reason I asked about the ICC is Jason Holder in the past has talked about subsidising salaries and these sorts of things. Is that something that you think would be helpful?
FAF DU PLESSIS: I think that is the perfect world, but we don't live in a perfect world so I don't think -- I think your England, Australia, India will always be the higher-paid nations.

If that changes, it will be amazing for the rest of the world, but I think it's a long, long way from happening and that's one way that you can try and keep -- you look at the -- it is easier for the guys who are playing for England or Australia or India to remain in their countries and just play their cricket there. Obviously the currency is very strong but also the packages that they get paid is obviously a lot different to your smaller nations.

And West Indies are a great example. They probably are the worst off and that is why they have lost so many players to the circuit. So, it would be great to see that happening, but I think it's a long way from happening.

Q. Would you call on the ICC to look at that, to do that?
FAF DU PLESSIS: I think it would be great for the rest of the teams if you could do that. If I had that much power to say that to the ICC I think I would have said it a long time ago, but I know it's a lot bigger than me and, you know, certainly all of the other nations, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies, Pakistan. I think all of us, you know, fall into the same category like maybe your second tier nations and then you get your top tier which is a little bit different.

Q. Faf, this is the first time you have played against David and Steve since Cape Town. What do you think the game learnt since that incident? Do you feel those two guys will forever be tainted or forever remembered by that game?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Certainly, they are extremely hungry to perform at international cricket again. I think any player that is as good as the two of them that will get taken away from playing at the highest stage will come back extremely motivated. And I think you can see that the two of them are and they are doing well and scoring runs.

Yeah, for me, I don't look at it like that. Whether the game will remember them for that, I don't think so. I think their records and their performances will speak much louder than one incident as a once-off and I think they are probably better, not -- I won't say people -- but if you can look at them now you can see as a team, obviously, the Australian culture looks like it's really good, so they have learnt from that and they have made themselves stronger for it and I think that's a good sign for anyone. All of us make mistakes. It is about how you learn and how you move forward.

Q. Faf, has there been any chat about the events in the Kingsmead stairwell, or what happened on the field in Cape Town amongst yourself, Quinton, has there been any chat in the team?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Not really, apart from me putting a shirt on next time (smiling).

No, no, no chat. It was quite a funny -- it was serious but it was funny watching that video, so that's probably something we will be remembered for, the stairwell, but no, certainly not. We saw it as a very, after that, a very, very light-hearted thing.

Q. Faf, to take you back to the bigger picture. It's not been a great World Cup for South Africa and there's all sorts of people calling for all sorts of change in the bigger system of the game in South Africa. Do you agree that a lot has to change and what do you think that change might need to be?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Sure, that's a question that's way above my pay grade (smiling). I don't -- it's difficult for me to say. I don't know to the context of what have people been saying needs to change. Yeah, I think Cricket South Africa is in a good place. It's producing young cricketers.

If you look at the last year or two, there's been so many young cricketers jumping through into the main side, probably more than ever, so that means there is talent, there's definitely talent and we are performing, you know, and obviously prior to this World Cup we are performing, we have been playing winning cricket, so long as you are producing cricketers that are winning there is nothing that needs to change.

The question would come in is when you start losing consistently as a team and then you go "Right, what do we need to change here?" Right now, obviously people would be very, very disappointed and so are we as a team, but I don't think it's not desperate times calling for desperate measures yet.

I think it is just having a bit of time after this World Cup for everyone to go their separate ways and just sit and think what needs to be done, where does the team need to move forward, what decisions need to be made for this team to move forward, you know.

I don't feel there is a style of cricket that needs to change in any way. I think the last year certainly we have looked at a style of cricket that we have wanted to play and we have played that style of cricket, but I can tell you that it is easier playing that style of cricket in a five-match series because if you make a mistake you get another opportunity.

When you come here, you want to play that style of cricket and that's the plan, but as soon as things don't go well, then obviously the lights get shined on your mistakes even more and it is really, really challenging to keep trusting that way of playing and, obviously, form will always play a role in trying to play that style.

And I thought, as I said before the tournament, the success of us going through to the semis, or possibly go to the final, even winning it, we rely on this team being in form and there has been probably a little bit too many of our players short of runs and wickets and then you'll never make, especially like I said with the new format, with only four teams.

Q. Being captain of an international side is a stressful experience even when everything is going smoothly. Have you given any thought to your own future as captain or future as a South Africa player?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Yes, as I said, now, I'm, I think the same for me. My almost, like, plan for myself was to commit fully to the World Cup and not even think of anything else further than the World Cup because I didn't want my mind to start drifting into the future, I wanted to be completely present in this World Cup.

And now the same thing for me applies. I'll -- right now is possibly not the best time to be making decisions because you are disappointed -- I won't say emotional -- but you don't want to be in this mode when you are making career decisions. So, for me, it will be a case of taking some time off and reflecting what does the future look like for me as well, what's my purpose going forward, is it still playing all three formats for South Africa? Those are the things that I would need to consider.

I feel in terms of my own game, the last year is certainly the best I have ever played. I still believe I'm on top of my own game, so performance-wise there is no question marks there.

It's just making sure that there's a lot of purpose to what I'm doing and a lot of purpose in my cricket and I've had a huge belief the last year and it's been very easy for me to not even consider anything else because my purpose in captaining this team are so strong that I didn't even think of anything else.

So that will probably, two or three weeks after this tournament, just having a real look at that and seeing what the future holds for me over the next year, two years.

Q. Faf, the incident in Cape Town, is it an area that will be discussed during the game? Is it something you can use when it comes to the verbals?
FAF DU PLESSIS: No, not at all. We have played against each other since then. As I said, it's not -- for me playing against Australia has always been a great battle because you face a team that's always very competitive and you face -- and that is what I love about playing against Australia.

There was certainly no talk about the past or bringing up comments. As I said back then, and I will say it now, I believe as a team we are a pretty low-key team when it comes to verbals.

We just try and get on and play the game and certainly the last few games playing against Australia that is exactly the same, the same from them.

Q. Can you give us an injury update on Miller and Ngidi?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Miller is not 100 percent for the next game and Lungi was fit the previous game, but we just decided to go with a different balance, so that will probably be going in with the same team.

Q. Faf, taking it back a little bit, I have asked a few players this this week. Obviously, 20 years ago is one of the great one-day matches played between Australia and South Africa in a World Cup here in England. I was interested in your memories and I guess where you saw the game, how you saw the game -- and I know you were very young then?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Yeah, I don't remember them as great (smiling). I remember them as being said, but for you guys it was amazing.

Yeah, funnily enough, because you, or myself, were quite young at that stage but you watch the game and you didn't understand the finer details of the game and like watching it back now, you see a completely different game.

I see South Africa cruising and then Warney coming on and bowling, one ball hitting on the toe and going to slip, and you are thinking DRS, could it have been different?

And then you watched the last over and you like think Lawrence basically was batting, he was seeing the ball this big, so you could take down a boundary at any stage of that over.

But then you put yourself in that situation, you go it's actually, in that moment, it's not always as easy as it looks, you know, there's not that clarity of thinking because there's so many pressure on that period of the game and it's easy to sit now and go well, "Why wasn't there a discussion between the batter and the tailender saying 'Listen, I'm going to take care of this bowler'?"

But it doesn't work -- everything happens so quickly. So I just look at the game now obviously a lot different because I have gone through a lot of these events as well now, but yes, Australia -- the catch of Herschelle -- like I watched, then and I go, "Like, it looked like he was out" but it wasn't a catch. Small margins in the game that completely went against South Africa, especially in that one game.

Then you look at the great knock that Steve Waugh played. So it's nice watching it now, but tomorrow will be another great opportunity for hopefully one of those great games. Hopefully, great for us (smiling).

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