CAPE TOWN – Faf du Plessis suspension by the ICC for a slow-over rate at Newlands has left a captaincy void at the Proteas for the final Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers.
The stakes may not be as high as usual, seeing that the South Africans have already wrapped up the series 2-0.
But ranking points and the stature of Test cricket is always on the table, so coach Ottis Gibson and the selectors will think long and hard about their skipper for Johannesburg this weekend.
Here are five candidates…
Quinton de Kock
He was a surprise choice as the captain for two ODIs against Sri Lanka in August when Du Plessis left the tour due to injury. Gibson said at the time that the wicket-keeper has a “good cricket brain” and that it was an opportunity to “show that side of his game as a leader”.
De Kock is certainly one of the seniors in the side now, and at 26, can definitely be a captain after Du Plessis in future. He is playing with good confidence, having scored 59 at Newlands and 45 in Centurion.
Markram is nursing a thigh injury that saw him being unable to open the batting in the second innings at Newlands. But he is expected to be fit for the Wanderers, and is regarded by some in the SA cricket community as the man to take over from Du Plessis one day.
Having battled to get going in Centurion, he found his touch at Newlands, hitting a sparkling 78 before being bowled by one that kept ridiculously low.
But perhaps at this stage of his career, Markram may be better served by concentrating on his batting than having to worry about leading the team.
Yes, he hasn’t really led a team in senior cricket, but Philander has all the experience and tactical nous to be in charge for a one-off Test.
The 33-year-old missed the Centurion game due to injury, and will be determined to produce another big match-haul of wickets after taking just two Pakistani scalps at Newlands.
The left-hander has become a rock at the top of the order, and has played in 53 Test matches already, so he is more than qualified to take charge of the team.
Elgar scored a gritty 50 on a difficult pitch in Centurion, and is renowned for his tough demeanour on the field.
A former permanent skipper, Amla took a blow to his arm in the second innings at Newlands that forced him off the field. That has placed him in doubt for the Wanderers, but if he is cleared to play, Amla will know what to do if required.