Leus du Plooy interview: 'It took me time to get over Middlesex relegation'

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Leus du Plooy’s first visit to Lord’s was nothing out of the ordinary, a trip to watch England’s draw with South Africa, the country of his birth, in 2008. The (attempted) second, however, for what was supposed to be a guided tour of the ground, was rather more eventful.

"I came back with my school in 2011 and I bust my toe up in St John's Wood Station on an escalator,” he explains. “I turned back with flip-flops on and cut it. I was just running down the street with a massive bloody foot. I almost passed out from the blood.

“I got picked up in an ambulance, sat in hospital for two hours and never did the tour.”

Happily, there has been no such hitch in the batter’s arrival in NW8 this spring, Du Plooy making the switch from Derbyshire on the back of a season in which he scored 1236 runs at 82 to finish second in the Division Two run charts.

 (Adam Davy/PA Wire)
(Adam Davy/PA Wire)

Middlesex find themselves immediate returnees to the second tier, with Du Plooy tasked with invigorating a batting lineup that gave the Lord’s outfit little hope of Division One survival with its failure to fire last year.

The 29-year-old’s signing was announced midway through the campaign and Middlesex’s relegation, after just one year back in the top flight, was certainly not part of the plan.

“I think we were mid-table at that point, so I was expecting us to stay up,” says Du Plooy, who briefly even discussed moving to Lord’s on loan in the latter part of last season in the hope of helping the fight against the drop.

“It took me a time to get over it, too,” he adds. “[But] one thing that's impressed me is the work ethic they have here. It’s obviously quite disappointing to go straight back down from Division One, and I think sometimes that can easily pour over into your pre-season, but I certainly haven't found that.”

One thing that's impressed me is the work ethic they have here

Leus du Plooy

Du Plooy is also pencilled for a leading role in Middlesex’s ailing T20 side, having spent a manic winter on the franchise circuit, at one stage playing in leagues in three countries - South Africa, Pakistan and the UAE - in the space of three February weeks.

Last week, Namibia all-rounder David Wiese - a regular in T20 competitions around the world - warned the proliferation of so many leagues means the franchise bubble is in danger of bursting and while Du Plooy rates his experiences as invaluable in isolation, agrees there is an element of the mercenary-go-round that does not sit quite right.

“I was jumping on a plane in Johannesburg, thinking I was going to play for Sharjah Warriors,” he explains. “But when I got there, they were like, 'No, they're out now; you have to go and play for Dubai Capitals’.

“I think of myself as a very loyal person, and it's quite tough. I guess you shouldn't be emotionally attached to those teams, but you almost have to detach yourself completely.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In more wholesome tune, Du Plooy also spent an autumn stint playing in the much-loved, much-laughed-at, European Cricket League on account of his Hungarian heritage. The tournament is best known for its general chaotic lilt and the viral clips of the carnage that often surface on social media, but Du Plooy’s ridiculous innings of 163 not out from 40 balls in a match against Turkey bucked the trend.

“I went there purely for the fact to play with my brother [Ximus], and I left just having been made so whole,” Du Plooy says. “A lot of the guys in my team emigrated from Pakistan and India to get a better life.

“Playing with those guys, we stayed in a three-star hotel and were on the beach every day. They were just loving it. We were getting a plate of food and they were just buzzing.

“It was actually the perfect thing to go to for me; it put everything back into perspective. Yes, I have the opportunity to live my dream, but there are guys out there who just do it for fun.”

Having navigated the famously treacherous journey from St John’s Wood platform to Lord’s without alarm this time around, the hope for Du Plooy is that this summer will offer chance to do both.