This is how Du Plessis enhanced his spinning skills
At the age of 38, with an illustrious international career behind him, one would expect Faf du Plessis to rely on his tried and tested methods in the twilight of his cricketing journey. However, du Plessis has proven that he is not one to rest on his laurels. In recent years, he has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and improve, particularly in his batting against spin bowling.
As the IPL 2023 crosses its midway point, du Plessis sits comfortably atop the run-scoring chart with an impressive tally of 422 runs. What makes this feat even more noteworthy is his strike rate of 167.46, the fastest among the top ten run-scorers in the tournament. Central to his success this year has been his noticeable improvement in playing spin, an area that has posed challenges for him in T20 cricket for a long time.
Between 2017 and 2021, du Plessis accumulated 1032 runs against spin in T20s at a modest strike rate of 115.80. However, since the beginning of 2022, he has amassed 900 runs against spin at a significantly enhanced strike rate of 138.42. In the current IPL season, du Plessis has exhibited his most rapid scoring rate against spin compared to any other season where he has faced at least 100 deliveries. This remarkable upturn in strike rate speaks volumes about his commitment to continuously developing his game.
Mike Hesson, the director of cricket for Royal Challengers Bangalore, shed light on du Plessis’ relentless pursuit of improvement. Hesson revealed that the two had discussions last year regarding du Plessis’ approach to facing spin, particularly during the powerplay overs. They identified certain areas in his game that required attention, and the seasoned batsman took on the challenge head-on. Hesson commended du Plessis’ tactical and technical adjustments, which enabled him to become a formidable force against spin and left-arm seam bowling.
Du Plessis’ transformation is not limited to countering specific types of spin bowling; he has demonstrated improvement against all forms of spin over the past two years, with the exception of left-arm spin. Interestingly, since the start of 2022, he has fallen prey to left-arm spin on only three occasions out of 11 deliveries faced. Notably, du Plessis’ approach at the crease remains composed and patient, as he refrains from charging down the pitch and instead waits for the delivery to come to him. Even when he moves towards the leg side, his movement is predominantly lateral, ensuring he maintains balance and control.
According to Hesson, the key to du Plessis’ success lies in his setup and positioning, allowing him to access all areas of the field and capitalize on his strengths. These adjustments have brought about a remarkable mindset shift, enabling him to dominate spin bowling with confidence and precision. Du Plessis’ strike rate against spinning deliveries that he has been in control of this season is a staggering 176.3, a significant improvement from his previous best of 139.4 against spinners in 2019.
Du Plessis’ evolution as a T20 batsman serves as a testament to his unwavering commitment to self-improvement. Despite his extensive experience, he remains hungry for growth, constantly fine-tuning his game to overcome challenges. As he leads the charge for runs in IPL 2023, du Plessis’ ability to adapt and thrive against spin bowling has elevated him to the status of a true batting maestro in the T20 format.