South Africa Skipper, Faf Du Plessis: “I am keen to learn more about God everyday”

Cross The Line caught up with SA cricket star Faf Du Plessis to delve into his personal walk with God and also found out about the meaning behind his tattoos!

So Faf who was your sporting role model as you were growing up?

Especially in cricket there was Jonty Rhodes who played for South Africa and it wasn’t necessarily for the skill that he had as a cricketer, I looked up to him in the way that he played cricket. Now being on the other side of that I understand that how you play the game does affect people, he was a just a guy who was diving, running around and enjoying the sport. That made him a role model in the past and I tried to emulate playing the game as he did because fielding has always been one of my priorities. The day that I cannot play the game with a smile on my face anymore will be the day that one looks at retirement.

Further on through my career I then looked at Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis, those guys from a cricketing point of view just because of how good they were. I used to sit at the back of the nets and just be in awe of how good Kallis was.

What would you be doing if you hadn’t made it as a pro cricketer?

Well some hobbies that I like are food and fashion so I would have loved to be a chef or something in the fashion industry, however in South Africa it’s that’s not a big market so I would have possibly gone down the food route. Me and my wife enjoy just cooking some food over a glass of wine and trying to use some great recipes from your local guys in Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.

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Could you tell us how you came to know God for yourself?

I grew up as a Christian but definitely not a relationship with God Christian, just a religion where I went to Sunday school and it was a very old-school church. When you don’t have a proper relationship with God you don’t really understand it all so that was me until about three years ago. I would say prayers as a habit and read my bible as a habit but without feeling or emotion. What happened was that my wife, before we got married, suggested that we see someone to give us pre-marital advice on what to expect and she recommended someone who was a pastor.

Now obviously, as guys generally do our egos get in the way a bit but I said let’s go and see him. I met with him and he started challenging me directly about my background in Christianity and so I was intrigued, I told him that I was interested in changing my life a little bit and that there are a lot of things I’d like to get rid of. Slowly but surely I saw other things that I wanted to change and we actually worked through a little book called ‘One To One’ which unpacks what it means to surrender your life to God. In working through all that stuff, my heart began to change and I wanted to be obedient, for the first time I was starting to fall in love with God.

It was about putting my needs second and trying to focus on putting God first, somehow he provides and makes sure that you get through. That was a huge turning point for me and my relationship with God.

Another turning point was a short time after when I was got a back injury and couldn’t go and play in the IPL, I was really disappointed because the IPL for us is a huge income source. In this two and three-week period which I had to spend at home I went through a heart change, got baptised along with my wife and then I went over to the IPL as a completely different person.

So you have represented the Proteas for many years in all formats but what has been your personal highlight with SA?

Definitely my test debut against Australia, to get the opportunity to play test cricket is great but to then save a test match and score a hundred in Australia for me was hands down the highlight of my professional career. It was different than I had expected it to be, I mean I blocked the ball for two days but a hundred is a hundred!

What’s one thing that God has taught you through your cricket?

I am trying to learn more about God every day, trying to be more like him every day and gaining a greater understanding that we do get it wrong all the time, we are only human. I found that my identity was with my cricket. Yes I am a sportsman and I’m used to be having my performances and my destiny in my own hands but you’ve got to surrender that and realise that isn’t why you serve him. It’s a tough lesson in the beginning because you like your destiny to be in your own hands but you realise that how you perform as a cricketer is not the most important thing. It’s just about trying to shine that light where ever you go and affect people.

If you could watch any batsman past or present, from the non-strikers end, who would it be?

A lot of people talk about Viv Richards but I never saw him play so for me Brian Lara was one of the best, he had so much flare so yeah he would be the one guy that I would like to bat with.

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Around world cricket there doesn’t appear to be too many players that are open to voicing their faith, why do you think this is?

Yes It feels like such a small family in the cricketing industry, in rugby you see guys praying together after the game, different nationalities praying together on the field and I would love to see that in our sport. So hopefully through us speaking about it our sport can become like that as well because the players are so influential and if the sport can do that then it is a great way to reach out to people.

You are now well established in the IPL, Ram Slam T20 and the Big Bash but do you have a preference?

So I’ve done county cricket, I’ve the done the Big Bash, the CPL now, obviously the South African domestic league and the Indian Premier League. For me the best-run domestic T20 league is the Big Bash, I was only there for two weeks but it is obviously a great place to go and tour, they have great facilities and huge crowds coming in. So that would be my favourite.

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Your Twitter bio reads ‘Jesus Follower’ before anything else, is this to show that your relationship with God is the most important thing to you?

Yes, I must put him before anything else. I do it to openly say that to the world that God is the most important thing in my life and when I, as we all do, sometimes drift away from God I just flick onto my Twitter or Instagram and I am reminded of that.

I also have a few tattoos; they are almost like the story of my life. I have one on the side of my ribs which reads grace because it is by the grace of God that my life has been changed. Then I have got a quarter sleeve on my arm which has all the important things that has happened in my life, including cricket and my walk with God. The first on the inside of my arm was the day I made my debut for South Africa and above it in Latin it says ‘a day from the Lord’. On the side there’s a compass with the directions of the Adelaide cricket Oval where I made my test debut with two dates in there, one the day I got married and the other is the day that I got baptised. On top of it is written ‘Agape’ which means unconditional love. So they are just a reminder and a way to publicly say this to people, it’s a way of giving a small testimony of what I am about.

Faf you appeared in a pop music video a while back, I have to ask, what was going on there?

Yes so AB rated himself as a singer, he still does but I reckon he is the only one that does. He just asked me to play the role of the kid whose dreams came true so I had to do that unfortunately. However, I enjoyed the latest one we did as the Proteas for our T20 campaign where I put on my little leopard skin top and I channelled my inner rap star for the music video.

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