SA captain Faf du Plessis watches nets ahead of the 4th and final test match against England on January 22 2020 in Johannesburg. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ STU FORSTER
SA captain Faf du Plessis watches nets ahead of the 4th and final test match against England on January 22 2020 in Johannesburg. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ STU FORSTER

Cricket SA’s independent selector Linda Zondi says embattled Test captain Faf du Plessis has not been dropped from the ODI team, but has been rested.

The 35-year-old Du Plessis’s long-term future has been a matter of debate and his lack of batting form has been a serious problem for the struggling Test side.

Du Plessis was the national team captain at 2019’s disastrous World Cup and has said that this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia could be his swansong.

“Faf isn’t dropped and so is Kagiso Rabada. We’ve rested them. We’ve got a T20 series coming up and that will be preparation for the T20 World Cup later this year.

“We’ve also got other players who are tied up elsewhere with other competitions whom we are interested in selecting‚ like Imran Tahir and Chris Morris. They’re not available now‚ but at a specific time and series‚ they’ll have to make themselves available for selection if they want to play in the T20 World Cup‚” Zondi said.

“AB de Villiers has also indicated his interest and all these things have to be managed. At this stage‚ Faf hasn’t retired‚ so it’s a process.”

As the previous selection convener‚ Zondi was at the heart of the De Villiers availability matter that rocked the Proteas during the 2019 World Cup.

Reports emerged of De Villiers wanting to rescind his May 2018 international retirement before the tournament started‚ but that request was turned down by Cricket SA.

In his absence‚ SA tried all available middle-order options in the lead-up to the tournament.

Zondi said he has not personally been in conversation with De Villiers‚ but that he has signalled early intentions means the team can plan for his availability.

Shown interest

SA have 11 T20s lined up before the World Cup in October.

“I haven’t had conversations with AB, but I see the team director in Mark Boucher and Faf have spoken to him and he’s shown interest,” Zondi said

“I don’t have a problem with that and even last year‚ I didn’t have a problem when we asked him to come back for the World Cup because I was involved. It was the timing and how it was done.

“This time‚ he registered his interest early, and for us now it’s a case of how do we plan around that in terms of him and other freelancers being available for particular series so they can be eligible for World Cup selections.

“No-one can just come into a tournament squad without playing in a series. You need to compete but we need to give opportunities to guys while we still have backup plans.”

The mere mention of Temba Bavuma’s name this season has been a source of fierce debate‚ especially in Test cricket.

As a white-ball player‚ Bavuma has been used sporadically by the Proteas‚ but effectively by the Lions as a top-order batsman and captain.

Zondi said they would like to see Bavuma convert his white-ball form for the Lions into something significant for the national team.

In Cricket SA’s 2019 Franchise T20 Challenge final‚ Bavuma scored a century for the Lions against the Warriors.

“We need to see what Temba can offer in white-ball cricket. He picked up nicely in T20 cricket last year and for us‚ it’s always better when you move from 20-over to 50-over cricket. We’ve always felt that he’s capable of playing white-ball cricket.

“It’s a matter of him getting an opportunity and seeing what he can offer because we still have enough time in terms of him getting into the team‚” Zondi said.

“He showed us a glimpse last year with the Lions and everyone talks about the 100 he made against Ireland. That wasn’t a strong side. Let’s see what he can bring against England to see if he can measure his success and see if he’s capable at this level.”