Faf du Plessis’s retirement leaves another big gap in Proteas Test team
CAPE TOWN – Former Proteas captain and current Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith believes Faf du Plessis's retirement from Test cricket “leaves another big gap” in the struggling team.
Du Plessis was the last remaining member of Smith's 2012 Proteas Test team that was in possession of the ICC Test Championship mace. He struck a match-saving century on his debut in Adelaide the same year and retired on Tuesday morning after playing 69 Tests.
Du Plessis led the Test side with aplomb from 2016 until 2019, but the wheels have since come off with the Proteas currently ranked No 6 in the world, having won one of their last five Test series.
“Faf has been a prolific Test cricketer for the Proteas for a number of years now and to lose him in this format is going to leave another big gap in the team,” Smith said.
“His commitment to the team has always been undoubtable and his transparency with Cricket South Africa about his plans has always been appreciated and we respect his decision, knowing he would not have come by it easily.
“I would like to thank Faf on behalf of CSA for his years of service and dedication to the Proteas' Test team and we look forward to engaging further with him on how he can continue contributing to the team in a meaningful way."
The 36-year-old is not lost altogether to the Proteas, though, as he will still be available for white-ball cricket.
He will, however, focus on the shortest format in order to be best prepared for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cups.
“The next two years are ICC T20 World Cup years. Because of this, my focus is shifting to this format and I want to play as much of it as possible around the world so that I can be the best player I can possibly be," Du Plessis said in a statement.
"I strongly believe that I have a lot to offer to the Proteas in this format. This does not mean that ODI cricket is no longer in the plans, I'm just making T20 cricket the priority in the short term.
“I will be in conversation with CSA over the next couple of months on what the future might look like for me over the next year to find a solution that works for both of us."
It seems Du Plessis and CSA have already had a few "conversations" with the 36-year-old being granted leave to miss the domestic CSA T20 Challenge, starting on Friday.
Instead, Du Plessis will return to the Pakistan Super League after representing the Peshawar Zalmi in last season's PSL playoffs as a replacement for Chris Gayle at the Quetta Gladiators.
Du Plessis will also be back at the Indian Premier League later this year after being retained by the Chennai Super Kings.
Although the dates of IPL 2021 have not been released, it is likely to clash with the Proteas' and Pakistan's T20 four-match series in April, which could mean Du Plessis could miss a couple of games for South Africa.