'Take your bag and f**k off' - Faf du Plessis reveals how Daryll Cullinan went from hero to zero

Faf du Plessis revisited the day when his childhood hero Daryll Cullinan treated him with utter disrespect, in his autobiography Faf: Through Fire.
 
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“Take your bag and f**k off!”

Faf du Plessis, the former South Africa captain, made a stunning revelation about fellow countryman Daryll Cullinan from his early days of playing cricket. Du Plessis revisited a nasty first interaction with his childhood hero that didn’t go down well by any means, and prompted him make a stern resolution for future.

In his soon-to-be-launched autobiography, 'Faf: Through Fire', du Plessis, went back to his younger days when he was one of the 15 players picked for a provincial team alongside a few internationals.

Here’s how the story goes, as narrated by du Plessis:

“Shortly after I finished school, the then provincial teams merged to form franchises. Northern Titans and Easterns merged and Dave Nosworthy was appointed as coach and Daryll Cullinan as captain.

“The new team included established players such as Daryll, Albie Morkel, André Nel and Zander de Bruyn.

“It affected my place in the ranking and it would be difficult to get a place in the starting XI.

“Fortunately, the franchise had high hopes for me: The older players started calling my name and I was included in the group as the rookie, which made me sign a rookie contract.

“During our first game at Centurion Park, about 15 players met in the dressing room for Nos to welcome us to this new environment.

“I was bowled over when I saw Daryll sitting there. Here I am, a rookie and I share a dressing room with one of the most talented batsmen of his generation. I resolved to do everything in my power to learn as much as possible from him. I knew I would have to earn my place in the starting XI, but the presence of this Protea legend made the merger an incredible opportunity for me to grow.

“I took my cricket bag and sat next to him. As I was taught at Affies, I greeted him with a respectful ‘hello, sir’.

“Nos joined us and started giving a generic speech: ‘Welcome, everyone. Everything is new and we will all need time to get used to it, but let’s make the most of this opportunity. Team selections will be difficult, but …’

“I wasn’t really paying attention. I was sitting next to one of my heroes.

“Then, a few minutes into the speech, Daryll raised his hand and told the coach to shut up. Then he turned to me: ‘What the f**k are you doing next to me? Why the f**k are you sitting here?’

“The dressing room fell dead silent. Nos tried to brush off this interruption and continued talking. But after a minute or so, Daryll interrupted again: ‘No, stop.’

“He then turned to me: ‘Youngster, take your bag and f**k off! Jacques Rudolph is a Test player, and he’s not even sitting next to me. He sits on a chair, but you sit on a f**king sofa.’

“I froze. ‘Take your bag and sit in the bath,” he continued to scold. “You don’t deserve to sit here.’

“Jacques replied that he didn’t mind sitting on a chair, but that only made the awkwardness worse. I hung my head in shame.

“In a matter of moments, the idol from my childhood went from hero to zero. I lost all respect and admiration for him.”

Cullinan aggregated 4554 runs at 44.21 from 70 Tests and 3860 runs at 33 from 138 ODIs for South Africa in a career spanning between 1993 and 2001, and was a part of the side’s run to the semi-final in the 1999 World Cup in England. All that though, didn’t matter to du Plessis on a day he committed himself to set the right example for youngsters.

As he went on further with the incident, du Plessis stated: “That day I resolved never to speak to anyone or act the way he had just done to me and I kept that promise when I became Protea captain. Fortunately, this kind of behavior was not part of the Protea environment I was introduced to under Graeme Smith’s leadership.”