It was not entirely surprising, but when news broke that Faf du Plessis had quit the captaincy of the national Test and T20 teams on Monday‚ it still came as a jolt.
Du Plessis has stepped down‚ apparently to help facilitate the emergence of the next generation of leaders within the squad.
Quinton de Kock has emerged as potential captain across all three formats in the short to medium term.
De Kock has already assumed the reins of the ODI side and he presided as captain in Du Plessis’s absence in the just completed T20 series defeat to England.
SA play two more Tests in the West Indies later in 2020 and De Kock may well be handed the captain’s armband for those engagements.
The emphasis in 2020 is on the ICC men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November and Du Plessis‚ according to a statement‚ wants to “concentrate on contributing to the team as a batsman and senior player who will offer guidance and advice to the new leadership group as part of their succession planning”.
Du Plessis has captained SA in a total of 112 international matches across all three formats since December 2012 when he led the team for the first time against New Zealand in a T20 series.
The hosts won that three-match contest 2-1. Since then he has scored 5,101 runs in all formats as captain, amassing 11 centuries and 28 half-centuries.
He led the Proteas in several famous victories‚ including the team’s 5-0 inbound ODI series and 2-1 outbound Test series victories against Australia in 2016.
Du Plessis said in the statement: “The last few weeks of rest away from the game have given me a lot of perspective on the great privilege and honour I have had in representing and leading my country in the three formats of this wonderful game. It has been a rewarding‚ sometimes tough and other times a lonely road‚ but I would not replace the experience for anything‚ because it has made me the man that I am proud to be today.
“When I took over the leadership‚ I did so with the commitment to lead‚ perform and most importantly‚ to serve. As the team heads into a new direction with new leaders and a young crop of players‚ I feel it will be in the best interests of SA cricket to relinquish the captaincy in all formats. This was one of the toughest decisions to make‚ but I remain fully committed to supporting Quinton‚ Mark and my teammates as we continue to rebuild and realign as a group.
“After the 2019 ICC World Cup‚ I made the decision to continue in my role as captain while the team went through a rebuilding phase after the retirement of some key senior players and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff that we had worked with until then.
“In a perfect world I would have loved to lead the team in the Tests for the rest of the season as well as the T20 World Cup‚ but sometimes the most important attribute of a leader is to be selfless.”
Cricket SA acting CEO Jacques Faul expressed his thanks to Du Plessis for his contribution to SA cricket and his stellar leadership of the Proteas.
“Faf’s record as player and captain speaks for itself‚” said Faul. “He has maintained the high standards he set for himself when he made a match-saving Test match century in Australia on debut in spite of the added responsibilities and pressures that come with leadership.
“He is the SA captain to have won home and away series against Australia — one of the benchmark nations of the game — in both Test match and ODI cricket and he also won a one-off T20 International series in Australia.”