NATIONAL CRICKET NEWS - Will the national cricket team now have their own Siya Kolisi moment?
Will the Proteas now follow in the footsteps of the Springboks in appointing their first black African Test skipper?
That’s the tantalising question that has emerged after Faf du Plessis announced on Monday that he’s stepping down from the captaincy in the five-day and T20 formats.
He had already ceded the stewardship of the ODI side to Quinton de Kock.
While it’s now highly likely that De Kock will be handed the T20 reins on a permanent basis, there will be robust discussions over who takes over in Tests.
And the standout candidate is Temba Bavuma.
Despite being dropped during the Test series against England, the diminutive right-hander was Du Plessis’ deputy last year in India and his white-ball exploits over the past few weeks has cemented his place in the national setup.
Bavuma is also thought to be the long-term successor at No 4 to Du Plessis in the Test batting order.
“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,” said Du Plessis.
“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 South African 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 re-align as a group.”
Despite sweeping changes to the national team since last year’s disastrous World Cup, Du Plessis initially remained committed to the captaincy in order to assist with the side’s period of transition.
But the emergence of leaders such as De Kock has prompted him to change his mind.
Du Plessis has also struggled for form this season and believes focusing on just being a senior player will mean he adds value to South Africa’s batting again.
“I am healthy, fit, energised and motivated and certainly see myself playing an important role in the squad for as long as I continue putting in winning performances for the team.”
Cricket South Africa acting chief Jacques Faul though is grateful that Du Plessis will still be playing.
“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 and he still has a vital role to play as we bridge the gap between one generation and the next. I’m 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,” he said.