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All in good time

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Selecting a new Test captain is a long way down Cricket South Africa's to-do list

Faf du Plessis (left) and Graeme Smith in conversation. Picture: Chris Ricco BackpagePix

Cricket South Africa is in no hurry to appoint Faf du Plessis’ replacement as Test captain as the organisation has many other more pressing matters to deal with right now.

There is also still plenty of time before the Proteas play in white again – against the West Indies in July – so CSA’s interim Director of Cricket Graeme Smith is happy to take his time.

“We’ve got some time to make an informed decision, so we are not rushing,” he said yesterday.

Du Plessis resigned as Test and T20 captain on Monday, bringing an end to a four-year reign that started gloriously but ended amidst disappointment and defeat.

South Africa managed just one win in their last nine Test matches, a period during which Cricket South Africa’s administration also fell apart.

Smith and Cricket SA are focused on drawing up contracts for the new season while also dealing with a plethora of issues from commercial deals to preparing the men’s T20 squad for the World Cup that takes place in Australia later this year.

That team will be led by Quinton de Kock.

In that regard, Du Plessis very much has a crucial role to play, even if he’s no longer the captain.

Smith, recalling his own experience as just an ordinary member of the team, explained it can be challenging returning to a squad that no longer sees you as captain.

“It will be interesting for him. He’s just got to find his space again,” Smith said. These things require honesty within the environment.

Good rapport

“He and Quinny will need to have a good rapport and the same with Mark (Boucher), so that everyone can make him feel welcome within the space and the environment. The best way to deal with this is to be honest, put your feelings out there and let everyone deal with it,” he said.

Du Plessis’ openness was one of the hallmarks of his captaincy, so communicating his feelings and how he views his new status within the team shouldn’t be difficult for him.

It will most likely take some of the older team members slightly longer to adjust to having De Kock barking instructions, but even that should be just a brief hassle.

For Du Plessis, it’s a case of scoring runs again, having found that difficult in the Test format in the last few months.

“One thing we have tried to stress with him through the last few weeks and even again now, is to focus on his own game, become a team man – which he is – and just step away from the need to control everything and the pressure that comes with that,” remarked Smith.

“He’s had a lot on his shoulders and it has affected him and hopefully this will free him up and he’ll become a more dynamic player again.

“His record in white ball cricket is incredible.”

Du Plessis was South Africa’s leading run scorer in the 50-over format last year and is the fourth highest scorer for the Proteas in T20 Internationals.

Meanwhile, the news yesterday that Temba Bavuma won’t be available for the first T20 International against Australia on Friday means that Du Plessis could find himself opening the batting alongside De Kock at the Wanderers – a position he’s not unfamiliar with having done so for Chennai in the Indian Premier League.