Proteas' Test captain is yet to bloom
Newly-appointed permanent Director of Cricket Graeme Smith confirmed via an online teleconference yesterday that De Kock will not be considered for the five-day format leadership. De Kock will continue to lead the Proteas ODI and T20 teams.
“The one definitive answer I can give as to who is going to be Test captain is that it is not going to be Quinton" said Smith.
“I can’t tell you who is going to be but we are in a debate over it. There is no one person who we can pinpoint right now and say ‘That is the guy’.
“There are still a lot of players who are vying for selection and I think the challenge that we sit with at the moment is that there are a lot of players who are on a similar level.”
Du Plessis led the Proteas across all three formats until January when De Kock took over the limited-overs duties.
“We want to keep Quinton fresh and playing well. I’ve always believed, having been in the job myself that captaining all three formats is challenging. We’ve seen a number of nations trying to figure out what’s best and I think across three formats, it probably doesn’t work,” Smith explained.
“From a workload and mental capacity, we felt that to burden him with all three formats wouldn’t be beneficial for us. And with the style of personality and player that he is, we want to keep him as expressive as possible.”
Although Du Plessis will continue to play Test cricket, the Proteas have lost a host of experienced players in recent years. Vernon Philander, Hashim Amla, De Villiers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and JP Duminy have all retired from Test cricket.
Opening batsman Dean Elgar is the most experienced member of the squad. He has captained the Proteas in Tests, notably against England at Lord’s in 2017 when Du Plessis remained at home to be at the birth of his first child. Elgar might be a short-term option, but at 32 years cannot be viewed as a long-term possibility.
There will be a push for Temba Bavuma now that the Highveld Lions skipper is back in the Test side after being dropped at the beginning of the summer. Bavuma’s appointment would be momentous as the right-hander would be the first Black African to captain the Proteas.
Smith hinted that the eventual choice might not be straightforward which could bring Aiden Markram back into the reckoning. The 25-year-old was considered a shoe-in for the job almost ever since he led the Junior Proteas to the ICC U-19 World Cup title in 2014, but is currently not in the Test side after missing the home summer due to a hand injury.
“We’ve got to understand the personalities, look at the people and maybe take a risk on someone potentially and back them,” Smith said. “Coming from a person who a risk was taken on, it is something we would consider. The challenge for when we do play some cricket is to see who escalates themselves into really consistent performances and who steps up.”