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July 6, 2019

Faf du Plessis

Manchester, England, UK

South Africa - 325-6, Australia - 315

THE MODERATOR: Evening, everybody. Just one question each, please, for Faf du Plessis.

Q. Faf, you saw the amount of people that waited for you outside when you came off the field. What do these type of victories mean for the people back home especially considering the way the campaign went?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Yeah, I mean, it's probably difficult to describe it because all of us are very, very passionate about playing for the Proteas, you know.

I have said that on so many times that that's been my absolute purpose the last year. I haven't even looked at anything else because there is such a big desire to play for the Proteas and do well so, obviously, when it doesn't go according to plan, which it didn't do for the first seven games of this tournament, then it hurts because you are very proud to play for the Proteas.

So I'm, you know, after a tough tour, I'm just glad that hopefully the team could put a small smile on the South African supporters' faces again. I know they just as much as we do enjoy beating Australia. There's always rivalry there so a small smile, but we'll take it.

Q. Faf, there was lots of hugs and lots of emotion when you scored a hundred, when you walked off the field and even during the innings break, Ottis Gibson was hugging everyone.
FAF DU PLESSIS: I've said it a few times that I think the one thing that has been true to and consistent through losing and winning has been the team morale.

Yes, obviously, we've been very disappointed how it's gone. I never really felt that behind closed doors that there was excuses being made or fingers being pointed at players in the team, or coaching staff, and that's a real positive for me to take away from a disappointing tour that the one positive, bar the last two games, has been the fact that we do -- there's more that we do than just cricket, you know.

As a team, we showed great unity in tough circumstances and that's when you get tested as a team, that cracks can appear and you can really start blaming each other and I never felt that this tournament.

So, that is a real positive for me as the captain, that I can say I'm really proud of that, that things are right in the team. Obviously, performances, we weren't up to scratch where we needed to be in the first seven games. Inconsistent. But the last two games have been brilliant. We've played some remarkable cricket and it's sad that it didn't happen earlier.

But it was always -- I mean, I have said it and it doesn't sound probably not right. But we weren't far off. It is a case of like someone getting a hundred, or one bowler bowling well on the day. And that's the small margins of international cricket.

The teams here have been very, very strong and if you are not on top of your game, you get beaten and we were on the wrong side of that this tournament.

Q. Faf, what did you identify before the game as the being the real keys on knocking off Australia and a tip on who wins it from here?
FAF DU PLESSIS: You need to be up for the fight when you play Australia, up for the challenge. It is a team that if you slightly off in terms of being up for the fight, they will bully you and that is a fact.

They have shown that on a lot of occasions, so that's always my message when we play against Australia, just make sure that you are there to look the opposition in the eye and fight for your country.

It doesn't mean abuse but it is just that presence that you have. And I felt, I think it brings the best out of all of us as a team. We have probably played our best cricket the last two years against Australia because we do raise our intensity a little bit more, which should be there for all games, but I can't tell you why it's not.

But for me, personally, when I get confronted with playing against Australia, there's an extra motivation for me because it's been past successes I have got through and I can rely on that. The second part was going forward?

Q. Who wins it?
FAF DU PLESSIS: It's difficult. I think Australia and India has proven it time and time again. They are teams that win big games. You mean it's hard to look past Australia and the success they've had in winning World Cups, as much as we would like to say we want to compete with that. The confidence that an Australian team comes into a World Cup with, what was it four or five times that they have lifted the trophy? That confidence is just like an extra player on your team so Australia would be -- they've got a tough game in the semifinal. They would probably prefer playing against New Zealand, so I would say one of Australia or India.

Q. Faf, there was a pretty emotional celebration after you got your hundred. Was that your last one-day knock for the Proteas?
FAF DU PLESSIS: It was just -- I have been batting, I felt like I have batted really well throughout this competition and I had high expectation of myself as a player but also as a captain to lead from the front, you know, I wanted to be -- my goal was to make sure that I'm the leading run scorer for this team and I wanted to lead from the front.

So the fact that I have been batting really well the whole tournament and so desperate to get a hundred because... I can't talk about getting hundreds if I'm not getting hundreds myself. I need to do that firstly and then only I can look at other players.

So the fact that I have been getting 50s and 60s right through the tournament and the previous game would probably have got a hundred if there was more time, but obviously just a bit too late in that regard.

But I was just, I suppose, a relief of emotion showing that I'm -- I've been really wanting to get that hundred for the team, so that was purely the reason for that.

And then going forward, yeah, I don't know right now. As I said before the previous, or the before the game yesterday (smiling), I love playing for South Africa and I hope that that is still something that I -- but the big thing for me is to have purpose as a leader.

I don't want to just play games for the sake of playing games. When I play I want to make sure I'm motivated to keep doing it and right now sitting here I am still, very very much motivated, but it's...

I decided way before this World Cup that I was going to play the World Cup, win or lose, good or bad, and then after the tournament sit down and just like anything just relook at what how hungry you are, how motivated, what has Cricket South Africa, what is their plans? So those things will happen over the next three, four weeks. But I really enjoyed today so it will be hard to walk away from the feeling of today and playing international cricket.

But that will probably be decided in front of a fireplace with a glass of red wine in my hand (smiling).

Q. Faf, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy played their last games today, a word about their contribution especially under your captaincy?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Two guys I've got so much respect for. You know, Imran, if we go right back, Imran started with me at the Titans. He was straight out of Pakistan and it was like from Lahore into the Titans, so I have played a long time with Immy and I played with him in the IPL as well. He's just got an incredible amount of passion and love for the game of cricket and he really commits to whichever team he plays for because he's such a big-hearted player.

He's got the same amount of energy everywhere he goes. If he is playing a domestic game or international game, South Africa's hands down by far our best celebrator ever, so I hope that people will remember that because that inspires kids, you know.

Kids will, when they are running around they want to do what Immy does, so yes he's been a fantastic cricketer but in terms of what he brings to our team, has been really special because he is a really caring person.

So, yeah, I'll make sure that I keep pushing him to be hungry to play for us in the T20 World Cup. He will be a big player. So over the next while I think he will be released a little bit from international commitments so we can make sure we can get him back in a year's time for that T20 World Cup.

And JP has been the father figure of the team for a long time now, he's been my soundboard in the team, he's a very wise man. So it's always nice for me to have him around to talk to him about how I'm feeling, what's the team's feeling. He's the guy that has the conversations with guys in the team just how they are feeling, how they are going, so he is the father figure in the side.

I know with him it's, you know, over the last year or two, it's probably not gone as well as he would have liked, but he's had a great career and he can be incredibly proud of what he produced for... I think he's played the most one-day cricket in our team right now so the most experienced. So I wish him well for what lies ahead.

I'm sure it will be in cricket. I think he will be perfectly suited, even in the future for the Proteas, to just be a bit of a mentor to help young players deal with what they are feeling because he's a "What are you feeling kind of guy?" He loves that chat (smiling). So, I think there will be a good space for him to move into that.

Q. Faf, do you think that plans for 2023 should start as early as possible in terms of a four-year cycle and identifying a blueprint and one coach and one captain and one group of players, or kind of working together for that whole period? Is that something we should be doing?
FAF DU PLESSIS: In a perfect world, yes. Obviously two guys are retiring, but maybe one or two more guys are a little bit older now so in a perfect world you would like to do that.

I think there is a still a space for the in between of now and four years' time, so if your plan is to start introducing some young players, I think you need to have some experience around those players because they learn very quickly from those guys. From a leadership point of view, whoever is going to be the next captain, I think there is still a lot of value of playing with me for a year or two to make sure that they can learn and grow and mature into what will be the next World Cup.

I think to completely cut off everything is not necessary. I think probably four or five players make space into the team and then you start phasing it out by getting players ready four years' time.

The last part was the coach question. I said initially the plan was for me and Ottis to go to the T20 World Cup so that is in a year's time. For us it was not to look past that, both of us, so that will be if Cricket South Africa believes they can do that and change the coach and captain probably after that tournament and still have what will be two-and-a-half, three years before the World Cup, that's also a possibility.

But I don't have any idea what they are thinking, so I haven't had conversations with anyone back home, so I assume that all of that stuff will fall on to my plate after this (smiling).

Q. Just a word about Rassie's innings and the form he's shown at this tournament. He's had to wait a long time for his chance on the international stage. What was it like batting with him today?
FAF DU PLESSIS: I mentioned it in a post-match with Mark Nicholas, he asked me the same question. I said today was a great example of Rassie for young players out there, that you start your innings and everything is going wrong, like he's hitting every fielder, five off 30 balls or 20 balls or whatever.

95 percent of players would panic and they would try and hit their way out of it. But the conversations with me was to "Stay calm, trust your game, it will turn, you will hit one in the middle and you will roll." He is a very composed player and that is why he's done so well so quickly because he's got a very mature head on his shoulders.

So I think Rassie has got a good future ahead of him, maybe in all three formats for South Africa. He's got that, I think that extra thing that is required to do well at international stage. And you can see that when big moments show themselves, Rassie has been there all the time, so he's got a bright future ahead of him.

Q. Faf, do you think your team played as well as they did today because they've had a bit of a break and able to get out the bubble and the pressure has been off, or did they find their best game today?
FAF DU PLESSIS: I think both. We've had conversations behind closed doors about this and I've -- I'm a big believer that especially your more experienced players, players that know their game are best when fresh.

I speak on my own behalf and personal that after the four days that I had now, coming back away from the game, just away from everything that's been going on, I came back and the net session was probably the best one on tour.

So I -- I have gone through the ups and downs and I know what is required and the younger players are probably a bit different. They need to feel like they are prepared for the game, they need to hit a lot of balls, bar Quinny, he just goes on feel.

But I think it was a good example once again that it is something we need to learn from, from a team point of view, that if there is an opportunity to make sure that players can get rest, especially before a tournament like this going forward, we need to take it because we -- I think in all sports you are your best when fresh mentally because it's that extra 10 percent which we probably lacked in the first seven games. It's the battle of the mind and then that's possibly something that we can learn from.

Q. Faf, after the Pakistan defeat we asked you about your legacy and you were honest about that. Now after a victory and after a hundred, if this is your last game, ODI game for South Africa, how do you think you will be remembered?
FAF DU PLESSIS: It was a weird one. I didn't feel -- as I said, I felt like I have batted well through the competition, but it's just felt -- I take it very personal the fact that the team don't do well. It is something that I'm very proud of. So if I got four hundreds and we are still in the same position that we were, I would still feel exactly the same way and that is why I haven't -- it doesn't sit well with me, the performance we have had because it was under the standard that we have in this team.

So to at least prove to ourselves and to the people that there is still, this is still a great team and the performance the last two games have done that.

Obviously, rightly so, people gave us a lot of stick because we didn't produce that cricket, but we didn't turn into a bad team over two weeks' time.

So that's good for me now that we can show the world that we are still a very good cricket team. There's one or two things that you hope will fall in your favour, a little bit of luck here and there, no injuries and your performances need to be more match-winning innings and that was the difference between the top teams and the teams that didn't make the semis.

Q. Faf, three World Cups later, and four years' time, the team that goes to 2023 will be vastly different. In terms of what you have seen, having captained here and played in a couple of other World Cups, can you pinpoint what it would take for this Proteas team to win a World Cup?
FAF DU PLESSIS: Difficult to answer (smiling). I don't know to be honest with you. Probably learnings from this one is that if you have -- the last two years with this team, we've always struggled a bit with balance. We always are a batter light, a bowler light. So I'm hoping in four years' time that will sort itself out.

The perfect combination team-wise is you have always got a sixth bowling option as a captain and you have got a top seven plus maybe or an 8 or a 9 and if you look at the teams that are here, a lot have that.

They have got a great balance, a long batting line-up, great pace. I think you could see the success of this tournament has been the fact that the teams that have done well has got fast bowlers in their team. Starc, Ferguson, and England's got, what's -- Archer. They have been their best three best bowlers in their teams.

And I'm so glad for KG today. KG showed what makes KG the world's best. He was at his best again today. That first couple of overs to David Warner was like the Test series in South Africa when he was pumped up and bowling at him so great to see him back at his best.

But I'm hoping balance. I'm hoping balance over the next four years that can be a real area of making sure that we are a bit stronger because we always have pace in South Africa. So that will be a great asset.

Spin -- the next World Cup is in India. How well we play spin and how many options we have. I think right now we have three or four really good players of spin and you have some young guys that have got time on their side to get better so that will be the difference between doing well or not.

Q. Faf, you've probably had a bit of time for hindsight now and you have mentioned before that the start of the tournament. Do you feel that maybe coming into the tournament there's been a lot of talk about playing aggressive cricket, positive cricket, using fast bowlers, that sort of thing. Do you feel maybe that there might have been a couple of mixed messages at the start there with the first game against England, pace off the ball was the big thing, and then against Bangladesh, maybe not laying down a marker, taking a less aggressive approach and bowling first?
FAF DU PLESSIS: I think that probably changed the day we didn't have the bowling attack that we would have wanted, so that was the plan going into the World Cup, that whatever runs we got we backed our bowling attack to get less, to do better than the runs than we got.

So when that changed, we didn't play one game with our full-strength team this World Cup so we never had Dale Steyn available, Lungi played one game, but he was always a bit under where he himself wanted to be, he came off an injury, two injuries actually before this World Cup. We tried to get him some game time, but unfortunate, it was off-season in South Africa so there was though cricket for him.

So our X factor that we had as a team wasn't there. And therefore we needed to change and adapt and try and win in a different way and a different style, so I think we -- it is not necessarily where we went out against England and tried to hit every ball for six, they just got a biggish score on --

I think you have seen through this World Cup if you get runs on the board, 320-plus it hasn't been defended that much and, obviously, vice versa, if we've bowled teams and we have kept them down to a low score, we have batted at a completely different tempo.

So the first three or four games we chased 330 probably every game. Bangladesh, yes, hindsight, I would bat first on that track. The tricky part with subcontinent teams, if you can get them out for 250 or 280, then you can easy chase it down.

But if they get 320, they become right in the game. So our plan that day was never for them to get 350, it was to bowl them out for 250.

If you look at Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, we did bowl them out and we chased those scores down very easily. So that is always the risk that you take when you are playing against subcontinent teams, when they get a score on the board their spinners are in the game and that is what happened on the day.

So, I look back at the tosses as something that I could change, but our skills were never there against Bangladesh, we bowled very poorly that day and batting we tried, but we were chasing 340 or something that day, so it was 40 or 50 runs too many.

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