26 June 2019, by: Carl Lewis

PROTEAS CAPTAIN FAF DU PLESSIS – WHAT NEXT?

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis must be exhausted of attempting to explain his sides limp efforts at the World Cup.

With two matches left, it’s a futile exercise trying to analyze these upcoming matches. However, the jarringly poor Proteas deserve an inquest which includes skipper du Plessis. We discuss what his future should be regarding the South African captaincy.

BET: South Africa v Sri Lanka

The captaincy situation

It must be tough being Faf du Plessis. He has the unenviable task of fronting up to the media whilst his team consistently struggles to get out of first gear at the World Cup.

With performances as inept as they have been, naturally talk/debate shifts to the 34-year-old’s standing as captain of South Africa.

In fairness to du Plessis, he has at times looked capable of steering the Proteas batting ship to the required destination. His tournament average of 38.20 tells a story of encouraging starts with no end product. The captain and his batters have lagged so far behind their rivals – dishing up performances without any substance.

Usually in control and well presented. It’s clear the emotional toll of the World Cup has affected du Plessis. After another routine loss to Pakistan, Faf admitted that the World Cup experience has been the lowest juncture in his captaincy, he said:

“The results that we have been dishing out at the moment … it’s really tough. It’s becoming a little bit embarrassing. We’re trying, but it’s just not good enough.”

Before the World Cup, there were no doubts regarding his captaincy. He was indisputably the ‘right man’ for the job. His record in ODI’s and Tests made for good reading. Until the 2019 series against Sri Lanka, du Plessis had never lost a home Test series. In the 50-over format, his team were victorious in 5 consecutive series – although in hindsight those series deserve far greater scrutiny.

As a player, Faf had also earned his place in the team. He was not relying on the captaincy to be in the XI. In fact, in ODI cricket du Plessis improved after being handed the responsibility, he averages over 50 as the skipper.

That being said, South Africa’s pathetic World Cup showing deserves a thorough review by CSA and du Plessis must be questioned in a constructive manner. But what to do?

The captaincy verdict

In my opinion, du Plessis should stay on as captain for at least another year. There is no clear successor and with a handful of players moving on, there would be an enormous leadership vacuum.

Faf is critical to CSA’s rebuilding and transition phase which MUST follow immediately after this World Cup. He is the ideal link between the values of the previous generation and the new breed.

Aiden Markram has always been touted as the future Proteas captain. He remains the only South African to lift a World Cup, albeit an under-19 one. Unfortunately, Markram is not ready to assume the position. In fact, his place in the ODI team could be in jeopardy so he needs the space to develop his own game. He is the best batting talent in South Africa, he must be scoring runs consistently before any talk of a leadership role.

Quinton de Kock is also another man that has captained in the past. He would not be my ideal candidate. Already he is South Africa’s premier batsman and the wicketkeeper. Adding extra responsibility is potentially a misstep.

There is no doubt, Kagiso Rabada exudes leadership, confidence and strength. Like de Kock, he is the best South African in his respective discipline and should remain focused on further evolving in his craft. Captaining in a time of uncertainty could backfire.

Interestingly, Rassie van der Dussen has emerged at this World Cup as a level headed character who belongs on the international stage. He might be a dark horse to replace du Plessis but he has yet to make his Test debut and lacks experience.

For the reasons stated above and the fact that Faf is still the best candidate for the job. I hope CSA does not extend the culling to the captaincy department.

Faf is still playing decent cricket and has a few years in him. As things stand, he gets into the team on merit and should be allowed to continue in his role as Proteas skipper.

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