Who can fill the void left by Faf du Plessis?
CAPE TOWN - Former Proteas Test captain Faf du Plessis has called time on his Test career after 69 appearances. His departure leaves a vacancy in the middle-order.
IOL Sport's Zaahier Adams investigates five candidates that could potentially replace Du Plessis.
1. Keegan Petersen
The Dolphins right-hander has been the form batsman on the South African first-class domestic scene the past two years and would most likely have made his Test debut against Sri Lanka were it not for Covid complications. He deserves his chance after posting FC averages of 45.43, 57.40, 51.50 and 57.66 across the past four seasons.
2. Kyle Verreynne
Although the official understudy to Quinton de Kock behind the stumps, Verreyne offers much more than just being an accomplished gloveman. He has the ability to push for a place in the Test line-up based on his batting numbers alone, which also impressively reads 50.80, 44,84, 55.10 and 59.16 over the past four seasons.
3. Raynard van Tonder
If national convenor Victor Mpitsang and Proteas coach Mark Boucher were looking to invest in a youthful prodigy, then they need look no further than Van Tonder. The 22-year-old has been prolific since bursting on to the scene for the Knights, averaging 58.86 for the Knights in 17 matches. The concern relating to Van Tonder is not to push him too quickly though as he has yet to score a century outside of Bloemfontein, where he averages a whopping 78.35 in all first-class cricket.
4. Dominic Hendricks
The former SA u19 captain has taken a while at the professional level to fulfill all the promise he showed as a junior, but now that he has matured, he is playing really good cricket. At 30 years old, he may not be a long-term option but would certainly not let the Test side down as he knows his own game inside out now.
5. Stiaan van Zyl
While this may seem like a wildcard option, but with Van Zyl no longer a Kolpak but an "overseas" player at Sussex, the classy left-hander is available for national selection again. Again at 33, he is not a spring chicken anymore, but if the Proteas were looking for a ready-made solution in terms of experience and ability to shore up a shaky batting line-up, they could just have found their man. Van Zyl is still in good form too, having struck 820 runs at 48.24 last season in the English County Championship Division 2. He still has that hunger for playing long innings, illustrated by a best of 173. Van Zyl has unfinished business with the Proteas and it could just be the fire that fuels a late international career resurgence.