JOHANNESBURG – The far-reaching changes to the leadership structure of the national men’s team will directly impact Faf du Plessis’s future as an international player.
Who those talks will be with will only become clear in the next few weeks after Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced yesterday it would be appointing a new team manager - with wide-ranging powers that include being able to appoint the Proteas captain - and a Director of Cricket, who will be responsible for the overall operations of the sport in the country.
Du Plessis, who walked away with three prizes at CSA’s awards evening on Saturday, has spent the past few weeks following South Africa’s exit from the World Cup thinking about his own future. He is, he stated firmly, still keen to remain captain.
Du Plessis said that the comments he made about his future after South Africa’s World Cup campaign ended, were not necessarily specific to captaincy.
“I wasn’t thinking about quitting, it’s about weighing up what the next year looks like in terms of all three formats. It’s a lot of time away playing cricket. As you get older you have to start looking at other tournaments.
That’s the balancing act that would need to happen.”
As illustrated by the prizes he walked away with on Saturday night, Du Plessis remains a crucial part of the Proteas side and given the number of changes that are in the offing it would seem crucial that there is some semblance of stability by retaining him in the captaincy position. He has been the side’s most consistent batsman across all formats in the last two years, while leading them with skill and craft.
“Captaining was my highest achievement and purpose for the team, the fact that I’m able to lead from the front from a playing point of view is really nice. Hopefully, there’s some really nice things ahead for me and the team as well.”
Du Plessis has still not sat down with CSA, with the federation’s hierarchy involved in several meetings in the last few weeks pertaining to the structure of the national team.
However structuring a plan for Du Plessis’ future is an urgent task. “I’m 35, I’ve probably got two or three years left, hopefully more, you can’t plan for that kind of thing, you have to try and plan for what every year looks like - and those are what the conversations with CSA will have to be. ‘What does year one look like? Year two? And then if there is a year three, what does that look like?’”
Du Plessis, despite the disappointment of the last few weeks, remains optimistic about the national team and its future.”
South Africa has always been a country that regardless of the sport, bounces back really hard,” he said.
“The (Springbok) rugby team went through a time where they struggled, and they’ve bounced back and they’re playing some really good rugby again. That is South African sport. There is a great talent in our country. It’s about making sure you trust the system and the players who are coming through. We’ve seen in the last two years, there is great youth coming through, Aiden (Markram) is one.
“On (Saturday) we saw Lutho Sipamla (winner of the MSL Young Player of the Year), he’s a real talent for us. There are guys and as long as you have a talent pool the future is bright.
You have to make sure you get the right people on the bus and the right structures,” he added.