Faf du Plessis’ CPL season is cut short by an elbow injury
Faf du Plessis, captain of the St. Lucia Kings, will now have surgery for a tennis elbow problem that has kept him out of action for the full season of CPL 2023.
Sikandar Raza, a Zimbabwean all-rounder who has recently made his Kings debut, will take over as captain of the team. Colin Munro, who has scored the most runs among foreign players in CPL history, has also been signed by Kings to replace du Plessis.
Du Plessis declared he would have surgery after arriving in South Africa after helping Kings defeat Trinbago Knight Riders on Saturday in Basseterre. Kings also mentioned the possibility of being out for around three months on his Instagram page.
“Happy with the result, but obviously sad [that] I’m leaving at a crucial stage in the tournament when you feel like the team can start doing some really good things in the tournament,”du Plessis told Ian Bishop at the post-match presentation.
“For me, the challenge with the elbow is I’ve played with it (tennis elbow) for almost two years; I’ve had eight cortisone injections into my elbow.
“So I’m at a stage where the cortisone is not good for my body anymore; so that’s why the operation is always the last resort. I didn’t want to do it, but [have] time off now. I’ve got to basically go from here to get off the plane into the hospital to get the surgery done.”
Du Plessis acknowledged that the tennis elbow in his most recent game against the Knight Riders had restricted his power-hitting, but he still managed to pump the ball over the top on the powerplay. He was in charge of 40 of the 48 runs the Kings scored in the first six overs. Before Andre Russell had Du Plessis hole out, he had increased his score to 57 off 36 balls.
“[During] the last while I did feel a little bit of loss of power – all because of the pain, which sometimes pulls the power back,”du Plessis said.
“So you just have to play a game where you feel like maybe hitting at 80% power, and [on] fields like this [which are] a little bit smaller, you can just time the ball. But yeah, I’m really happy with the innings today.
“I think we needed that in the powerplay, especially in my experience playing here and against these guys [TKR] – they’re a very strong powerplay attack. Akeal Hosein always does well; he gets one or two wickets upfront, and then they bowled really well. The fact that we could counterpunch that and get 50 after six [overs] was a great way to play off the front foot.”
Du Plessis’ forced absence due to injury is a serious setback for Kings. With 332 runs in nine innings at a strike rate of 169, he was their second-highest run scorer last season, behind Johnson Charles, and fourth-highest overall. Overall, Kings’ development over the previous two years has been greatly aided by his leadership.
Although du Plessis trusted Raza and the rest of Kings’ leadership team to capitalize on their early success this season, Sikandar Raza has only served as captain once in recognized franchise T20 cricket, with Dambulla Aura in the LPL last year when Dasun Shanaka was injured. They presently have six points after five games, which puts them atop the standings.
“Always for me, it’s about pulling people in for the journey, and trying and asking questions. And I feel that’s the best way, according to me, to run things,”du Plessis said.
“You use the resources that you have. Roston Chase has been great. For me on the field, [it’s] just speaking to him about local players and asking questions. Johnson Charles is a great cricket brain. He’s not a guy who says a lot, but [is] a great thinker.
“Raza is someone who has played a lot of T20 and T10 cricket. So very much an experienced brain there; so it’s great to have those guys on the field and ask questions. Obviously, it’s a change, and probably you could say a big change because it’s someone stepping into the shoes for the first time with the St Lucia Kings.”
“But luckily, we’ve got someone like Sammy there who will make sure for the first one or two games there will be some direction from his side. And then trust the guy on the field with the resources that he has at his disposal.”
Du Plessis will turn 40 in July of next year, but he might be in the running to rejoin South Africa’s team in time for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
The left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad, who was chosen for Afghanistan’s ODI team for the Asia Cup, which coincides with the CPL, will temporarily be replaced by England all-rounder Tom Curran, who led Oval Invincibles to the Men’s Hundred title on Sunday. Curran will join Trinbago Knight Riders.
Tim from Australia as a replacement for Rilee Rossouw, who is no longer available for the CPL, David will also join TKR.
However, David himself won’t be available for the first six league games for Knight Riders, instead Ireland wicketkeeper-batter Lorcan Tucker has been brought in as a stand-in. David will re-team with Kieron Pollard, the captain of the Knight Riders, who served as his batting coach for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2023.