Faf du Plessis

A century on his Test debut for the Proteas last year might belie the sober progression of François du Plessis’s career. He was already 28 and a warhorse of provincial, county and even ODI cricket. But the wait was worth it. “Test cricket really is the ultimate,” says du Plessis. “Physically and mentally, nothing compares.” With an average of nearly 70 in this format, it seems he’s up to the challenge. An effervescent fielder and quiet leader, du Plessis is now also a star of IPL outfit the Chennai Super Kings and has cemented himself in the novel role of permanent skipper of the national T20 side. But in important ways du Plessis has only begun to achieve his goals. “I want to be able to really score runs 360 degrees around the field,” he says. “And I’d like to be a top batsman in all formats of the game for a long time. But I can’t say anything will beat a Test hundred on debut.” — Ian Macleod