FAF DU PLESSIS
“If you do something that you don’t love, you’ll find it a headache”
His pride at being Captain of his beloved South Africa . . .
"Extreme pride, It's a huge honour to captain your country and I just love doing it. Working with the different players and trying to get the best out of them and in a way getting the best out of me as a player as well. It comes with a lot of extra responsibility but that's how I like it. When you come to places like England and Australia where the media plays a big part in trying to put some pressure on you, it's important to deal with that from a captaincy point of view."
His leadership style . . .
"I am extremely laid back, but obviously at times when it's needed for you to be firm you have to be blunt. It's all about knowing when to do that because different players need different things to get them going or to get the best out of them. Lucky for me, I've played a bit of cricket and learnt a lot about myself and my leadership, that's certainly got to do with my faith as well as my character has changed through the years. In terms of knowing what to do at certain times, it's also about knowing when to keep quiet as well. My style is very relaxed and very honest, so I think those are my trademarks as a leader, players and personnel know exactly where they stand with me.
Who he leans on for captaincy advice in the game . . .
"I think it's important to have a group of senior players in your team who are there to drive the team to the same vision that you have as captain. Obviously the captain will drive most of the things that he would like to see happen but you have your trusted senior advisers and I'm a big believer in that. Through the years I have been fortunate enough to play under some great leaders, so you see what they do well and you try to pick a few things from them, but it's important to also have your own style of captaincy. Don't try and just copy someone else because players will see through it, they want you to be authentic."
Who, from world cricket, he'd love to watch from the non-strikers end . . .
"That's a good question, I think someone like England's Ben Stokes is a really exciting cricketer. He plays the game in a very positive way, similar to Quinton De Kock from our team. Also David Warner from Australia, it's all the guys that are more attacking and can change a game in a session. They are able to go through the gears at different times. So yes, probably one of those three."
His advice for aspiring cricketers who want to replicate his success in cricket . . .
"Obviously in any sport you have to have the skill first, so I would say that the skill is really important and so as you are growing older, try and get the best skill-sets that you can. Make sure that you work and train those skill-sets everyday and try to get better in areas where you are weak. From the mental side of things, It's important to enjoy it, if you do something but you don't love it, then you are going to find it to be a headache at times. Enjoy it, work hard and then the further you go, I would suggest that having a lifestyle balance is really important to make sure that you can still get away from the game a little bit to freshen up your mind."
The meaning behind his 'Jesus Follower' Twitter bio . . .
"That is the thing that is most important in my life. I understand that I have a purpose, through God and he has put me in a place where I must shine his light. So for me, to be fortunate enough to be in a place where people look up to me, means that when they look at me, they see that I am a Christian first, a dad and a husband second, and then cricket comes after that. As important as cricket is because it is my livelihood, it definitely isn't my first priority. The way I look at it everyday is to just be thankful for being put in the place that I am, so that's why my social media pages say that I'm a Jesus follower first because He is the reason that I am here."
What was missing from life, to cause him to look for more . . .
"I was playing for South Africa at the time and as youngsters, you've made it. You have financial security with some money around, you have a bit of celebrity status or whatever you want to call it, so pretty much everything that you've ever wanted, you now have. But still, there were so many times where I would feel that there was so much missing from my life and I had a feeling of emptiness. That's what being a Christian and a Jesus follower now gives me, the fact that that hole, the empty feeling that I had is now full. Where I am sitting now today, from five or ten years ago, to be really honest with you, being 'famous' is the last thing that I strived for, because I don't see myself like that. I see myself as being a good guy and wanting to treat people with respect. If you have that outlook then your eyes are so much more wide open. Jesus' first thing was always to be humble, to treat people well, to have respect for people and to love people. Before, I had a completely different outlook on life, so I am very happy that my journey went the way that it did."
His various tattoos . . .
"The first tattoo that I got was the day that I made my debut playing for South Africa, so that's just the date and it says 'A day from the Lord'. That was a special day for me, reaching your boyhood dream. Then I've got a compass also on my arm which points in the direction of the Adelaide Oval in Australia which is where I made a hundred on my test debut. And then above it says 'Agape' which means unconditional love. Then there is my wedding date in there and also the date that I got baptised. Obviously that was a special, special day. So I keep going at it, my daughter's name will go in there now and I am having a cross and an anchor, which biblically is for your faith being strong and the love that God has for you. I specifically want my tattoos to tell a story of my faith as well because a lot of people ask about the tattoos, so I get an opportunity to share my story and through that a conversation will start."