Francois du Plessis is a man that in the cricketing fraternity needs no introduction. On Wednesday, the 17th of February, Faf, as he is known, announced that he will no longer be available to play test cricket for South Africa! He said he wants to focus on the shorter formats of the game, with 2 world cup years coming up, and his numbers in the shorter formats regarding recent form are much better than in tests. 

The decision could not have been easy because it comes about a year after giving up the captaincy in Test cricket. 

Faf made his mark in Test cricket in his very first Test match. He started with a 78 in the first innings in Adelaide 2012, but that particular match won’t be remembered for his first innings- in the second innings, Faf batted for a staggering 376 deliveries, scoring 110 runs, to save the Proteas from what would undoubtedly have been a defeat! 

It was a tremendous performance from the man and one of the best knocks ever seen regarding concentration, determination and skill. He went in to score 9 more hundreds for the Proteas! His most recent- a career-best vs Sri Lanka, 199, just 1 run short of that elusive double century. That innings somewhat and outlier compared to his form over the last few years in tests. 

Faf assumed the captaincy from AB de Villiers in 2016 and guided his team to 18 test victories during his tenure as captain, including away test series against New Zealand and Australia to kick off his reign as Skipper of The Proteas. 

Faf was unquestionably a great leader and one of the most aggressive captains we have ever had, never more evident than in the day/night test vs Australia when he declared on day 1. 

Faf will be remembered as a fearless leader and batsmen, but also for his spectacular fielding efforts. He took some unbelievable catches in his time, some that defy belief! 

The last few years of du Plessis’ career have been shrouded in controversy; he was in charge of our “worst ever” world cup performance. With cricket suffering defeats, first in India and then at home to England, meant that something had to give, and sure enough, he relinquished the captaincy in test matches to ease his burden. 

The hope was that he could find his form in tests and help guide SA through a period of transition. 

Unfortunately, barring that knock vs Sri Lanka, his form remained unconvincing and rather than make coach Mark Boucher drop him, Faf decided to call time on his career. He averaged 40 with the bat in 69 matches for the Proteas and at one time was the glue holding the team together in all 3 formats of cricket. 

In South Africa, we are quick to “jump” on a player when they underperform. However, now that Faf is done in tests, we can sit back and look at his achievements at that level, and in my opinion, Faf is a legend of SA cricket. 

His numbers aren’t the best, nor his capacity record, but the swag and attitude he brought to the team were noticeable. He never backed down from a challenge and met them all head-on. He helped us through probably the most tumultuous time in our cricket history, and while we continue to struggle, it speaks volumes of the man’s character that he wanted to stay and continue to do his best for the team and that for, me, is worth so much more than stats. 

It shows he “bleeds” green and gold, (Official Cricket colours), and only wants what is best for the Proteas and cricket in SA.