Faf du Plessis has officially stepped down as captain of the Proteas for Test matches and T20 Internationals. A sad day for SA cricket given all the effort he has put in over the years. Particularly the last part of his captaincy, the last 2 years, or so. He’s had to deal with politics behind the scenes. Cricket South Africa has been an absolute circus for years and Faf has remained calm throughout. Only lately, he has not looked himself. The terrible World Cup, the horrendous tour of India and now losing to England at home has all piled on the pressure and something had to give. In many ways, I feel sorry for him because I believed he could have still captained this team for two more years but the writing was on the wall after that loss to England.
Faf may be down but he is by no means out. He can be proud of his record as captain of the Proteas. In Tests, he has a win percentage of 50%, second only to Shaun Pollock. This is only considering players that captained 10 Tests or more. In One Day Internationals, he has won 28 out of 39 games and in T20I, he has won 23 out of 37 games. Faf has said that he will continue to play for the Proteas if he is picked. His form over the last year or so hasn’t been great with his last 100 in tests coming 2 years ago and an average over that time of 29, things don’t look good for the right-handed batsmen. However, in a very inexperienced team and with a new captain at the helm, Faf could add value in the dressing room as a senior player. We hope that his form can return and he can hopefully go out on top when he decides to retire.
From the moment of his Test debut, it seemed as if he was destined to captain this team. With his fighting heroics down under, he gained respect for his never say die attitude and a lead from the front style of play. While the last couple of years have been extremely lean both for him personally and for the team I still believe that Faf leaves the team in a better place than when he got the job as captain. In all likelihood, he is handing over to Quinton de Kock who has already taken over as ODI skipper. Quinny will probably be captain across all three formats. Initially, I was sceptical to have him captain across all three formats but even though they lost to England in the ODI’s and T20I’s, I saw enough from Quinny to assure me that SA cricket is safe. Quinton has great instincts for the game. We will have to wait and see if that can translate into results but I am confident he can do the job.
Faf has said that he will consider his career after the hopefully successful T20 World Cup. In all likelihood, he will probably retire from test cricket to focus on white-ball cricket. He has a prolific record in recent times in the shorter format and, might be eyeing the 2023 World Cup as a chance to go out, literally on top of the world. A lot would have to change in that time for SA to lift that trophy but if England can do it, I believe we can too.
I believe Faf still has a lot to offer the Proteas and I hope he can continue to play and perform for many years to come. Maybe now that the burden of captaincy has been lifted we will see a happier, more upbeat Faf du Plessis, the Faf we all know and love.