Faf du Plessis announced on Monday that he will be stepping down as South Africa’s Test and T20I captain, while he was last month axed as ODI skipper, with wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock given the reins.
The 35-year-old has no intentions, however, of halting his playing career and looks to contribute to the team as a batsman and a senior player. Du Plessis, in a media statement, said he invested a lot of time immersed in thinking before coming to his decision.
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,” said du Plessis.
Du Plessis was appointed as South Africa’s full-time T20I captain in February 2013, subsequently taking over the Test captaincy from AB de Villiers in 2016 and named the ODI captain in September 2017. Under him, South Africa made the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20I World Cup in 2014 but failed to replicate the same passage in the next edition in 2016.
After making great starts, as Test captain, du Plessis led the Proteas to two series wins in New Zealand, one in Australia and a series sweep of Sri Lanka at home during the 2016/17 season. In the 50 over format, he won 17 of his first 20 games as captain, bagging series sweeps against Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at home, and a 2-1 away win against Australia.
But informing his decision to give up the captaincy, has been a languid last 12 months for the Proteas. During the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup last year, South Africa were knocked out of contention early, after managing just a single win from their seven games. A poor run of form in Tests did little to ease his captaincy woes.
South Africa were swept clean by Sri Lanka at home and later, emphatically in a three-match series in India, before going down 3-1 to England in the latest outing. Du Plessis’ own form with the bat raised quite a few questions over his place in the side. Overall, he led in 36 Tests, 39 ODIs and 40 T20Is, of which South Africa won 18, 28 and 25 respectively.
Cricket South Africa chief executive, Jacques Faul, lauded du Plessis for his latest career-defining decision. “His latest decision reminds us all of the manner in which he has always put the team first. Following the retirement of Vernon Philander, he and Dale Steyn are the last survivors of the golden generation that took the Proteas to the top of the Test rankings.
He still has a vital role to play as we bridge the gap between one generation and the next. I am sure he will continue to add much value to the Proteas, both on the field and in the dressing room in the final chapter of his outstanding career.”