South African cricket great Faf du Plessis on why he disliked all New Zealanders

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Feb 03, 2024, 20:06

South African cricketing great Faf du Plessis says he was left with “extreme feelings of resentment” towards all New Zealanders - and not just the country’s cricketers - after a physical and verbal on-field stoush with the Black Caps.

The former Proteas captain has also revealed the antics ex-Black Caps wicketkeeper and captain Brendon McCullum employed to ensure match officials never heard the “constant abuse” he gave him during the heated clash.

Now retired from international cricket, du Plessis found himself at the centre of an ugly moment in the history of the Blacks Caps’ during the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

The treatment dished out to him by the likes of McCullum, Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor and even 12th man Kyle Mills - which he said resembled being caught up in a “bar fight” - saw the allrounder adopt a strong dislike of not only his Kiwi on-field opponents but also all the cricketers’ countrymen and women.

In his autobiography, Faf: Through the Fire, du Plessis has opened up about the incident which soured the Proteas /
Black Caps quarter-final clash, in a chapter titled ‘This is Not a Bar Fight’.

“For a while, I bore extreme feelings of resentment towards New Zealanders. All of them,” du Plessis wrote.

“I grew up thinking the Aussies were the gutter kings of sledging, but then I discovered the dark place the Kiwis are dragging you into

The two teams begin a two-test series in Tauranga this morning. None of those involved in the verbal and physical showdown in 2011 are still playing international cricket.

The allrounder was making just his 10th ODI appearance for the Proteas when he butted heads with the Black Caps during the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Seemingly innocent comments from the then 26-year-old du Plessis in the lead-up to the game were seized upon by the Black Caps when he came out to bat.

He had told the media while he was relatively new to international cricket, he still had “plenty of experience” playing County cricket in England and domestically in South Africa.

He was then asked about the “chokers” tag given to South Africa at successive World Cups, responding he carried no “baggage” as he hadn’t been part of previous tournament failures. They were comments that the Black Caps later used as ammunition to attack him.

‘It felt like a bar brawl’

“As I walked out to bat, I could almost sense intense animosity from the New Zealanders towards me,” du Plessis wrote in Faf: Through the Fire.

“They told me I was arrogant [they used more colourful language] to consider myself an experienced player. ‘This is your first and last season, mate’,” he wrote.

Emotions erupted on the field three balls later when star batsman AB de Villiers was run out after du Plessis called for what would have been a tight run.

“Before AB had started heading for the changing room, the entire New Zealand side encircled me and the sledging intensified,” he wrote.

“Even Kyle Mills, their twelfth man, swore at me when he brought on the water bottles. I thought to myself, ‘Who’s this guy? You can’t talk to me – you’re not even playing’.

“I was surrounded by men in black; Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Scott Styris, you name them. They climbed into me as if I’d been caught stealing from them.”

A stunned du Plessis says he was then “shoved” and he retaliated.

“It felt like a bar brawl in Hatfield or Cardiff, with Kyle still hanging around like a drunk who had no business getting involved in someone else’s fight,” du Plessis wrote.

“I knew I had to stand my ground.

“As was to be expected, I was accused of choking. The Kiwis made sure I knew the choking happened at my end.”

The ugly incident - which happened in a match which the Black Caps went on to win - led to a series of fines being dished out.

Mills was fined 120 per cent of his Black Caps match fee. Vettori and du Plessis were both fined 50 per cent of their match fees.

While he described his fine as “hefty”, du Plessis wrote what had confused him the most was how McCullum – who directed “constant abuse of me from behind the stumps” - had escaped sanction.

“Brendon said the sort of thing to me that I thought was only the Aussies’ way of treating their opponents,” he wrote.

“It was like a scolding.

“I left India despising the New Zealanders. The level of abuse and aggression directed at me was worse than anything I had ever experienced.”

How Faf du Plessis made his peace with Black Caps, and all New Zealanders

Mills offered an olive branch two days after the game making an apology to du Plessis via social media, something the South African described as being “heartfelt”.

“It takes real courage and humility to make such a public apology after having done something wrong” he wrote in Faf: Through the Fire.

Four years later, and writing in a column for the Herald, Mills said the incident was “something I deeply regret”.

He wrote that he had “acted like a spoiled child and felt I had let down my teammates, country and family”.

Du Plessis and Styris - no stranger to run-ins on the cricket field - then made their peace during the 2011 Indian Premier League played shortly after the World Cup.

“Scott Styris and I were sitting next to each other at a table in a restaurant, and there was still a simmering tension between us,” du Plessis wrote.

“After a while, Albie Morkel had had enough and said, ‘Guys, come on. The World Cup is a thing of the past and you need to put that game behind you. Seriously!’.

“As in couples therapy, I first had some things to get off my chest. I wanted to know what Scott had to say for himself and his teammates.

“At the onset of therapy, you usually look for someone else to blame for your own behaviour. Why had they targeted me specifically? It was nothing personal, merely tactical. Fair enough. It was a World Cup knock-out match.

“That made me feel slightly better.”

Revealed: The tactic Brendon McCullum used to ensure match officials couldn’t hear his cutting ‘verbal abuse’

In Faf: Through the Fire, du Plessis also revealed how McCullum avoided any sanction for the heated verbals he dished out.

At the time of the incident, he said he “couldn’t understand” how the now England test coach had escaped any punishment.

He later found out, explaining in his book: “When I asked Brendon about that on a later occasion, he said he just scratched his spikes on the pitch right up against the mic every time he felt like hurling verbal abuse my way, which was for the full duration of my innings.

“Hearing this, I had to let go of my bitterness towards them. I couldn’t hold a grudge for that. I was impressed . . . his resourcefulness earned my admiration.”

He also added that time had healed his dislike of “all New Zealanders”, adding: “Having had the privilege of playing against and with New Zealanders over the years, I now want to make my revised position clear; they are by far the nicest people on the international circuit.

Feb 04, 2024, 16:41

Never ever respected McCullum before reading this posting and never will.

Just watching him in the stands in the present series against India is more than enough for me.

He might have been a great cricketer but that is about all I am able to compliment him on.

Good for you Faf.

I respect NZ sportsmen and women they really perform remarkably well for a small nation internationally espically with the SA crickets who earn selection for that country.

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