Last week, former Proteas test captain and South African cricket legend, Faf du Plessis, called time on his Test career. His retirement signals the end of an era in the SA cricket community as du Plessis is seen as one of the country’s brightest stars ever. The 36-year-old retires with 4,163 runs in 69 Tests at an average of 40,02, including 10 centuries, he also captained the side 36 times in total.
Du Plessis stepped onto the Test scene in spectacular fashion, becoming the fourth South African to score a debut Test century when he did so on the 23rd of November 2012, against, arguably South Africa’s biggest rivals, Australia. In his first Test du Plessis scored 188 in a Man-of-the-Match performance. After several impressive displays and demonstrations of his leadership capabilities, du Plessis assumed the Test captaincy in December of 2016 after long-time teammate and friend, AB de Villiers, stepped down from the position. In August of 2017, du Plessis became the captain of the Proteas in all three formats.
After being named the Men’s Cricketer of the Year at Cricket South Africa’s annual award ceremony in 2019, du Plessis followed with more success, scoring his 4,000th test runs, scoring 199 against Sri Lanka. Last week he announced his retirement from the format, after playing his final test against Pakistan on the 4th of February 2021.
The SA cricket legend’s announcement came as a shock to some, as many still believe he has something to offer in the longest format of the game. Graeme Smith, Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket, who is a former captain of the Proteas himself, said, “Faf has been a prolific Test cricketer for the Proteas for a number of years now and to lose him in this format is going to leave another big gap in the team,” Smith also added, “His commitment to the team has always been undoubtable and his transparency with CSA about his plans has always been appreciated and we respect his decision.” Smith concluded, “I would like to thank Faf on behalf of CSA for his years of service and dedication to the Proteas’ Test team.”
Kagiso Rabada, who played 34 times under the captaincy of du Plessis, has highlighted what he would miss most about his former captain. “We’re going to miss those hands in the slip cordon. He doesn’t drop many and he’s taken some blinders,” the Proteas quick said, “It is a test career that should be celebrated, but I guess it was his time, [although] it looks like he still wants to continue playing limited overs cricket.”
Like Smith and Rabada, the world’s cricket community and its supporters will miss seeing du Plessis playing in all-white. His decision to close the book on this chapter of his career could not have been an easy one, but the cricketing world is indebted to him for his show of class and his tremendous leadership on an off the field.