Faf du Plessis: the closing of a chapter

CAPE TOWN – South African cricket closed a chapter at 9:28am on Monday morning. Faf du Plessis stood down with immediate effect from all Proteas leadership positions.

Although Quinton de Kock had already permanently replaced Du Plessis as the Proteas ODI skipper, Du Plessis was still officially in charge of the T20I and Test teams.

De Kock, who has led the Proteas in their last T20I series in the absence of Du Plessis, will now assume all white-ball leadership positions in the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

Du Plessis, 35, has not retired altogether though and remains committed to playing all three formats for the Proteas.

IOL Sport’s Zaahier Adams revisits three of Faf du Plessis career highlights, three lowlights as well as some of his career stats:

Faf’s Top 3

1. Re-writing history

The Proteas have had great teams since re-admission. Under Graeme Smith’s leadership, they even reached the top of Everest as the No 1 ranked Test side in the world. But even “Biff” failed to lead the Proteas to a series win over the arch-enemy Australia at home. Enter Du Plessis and his class of 2018. With the Aussies self-destructing due to #Sandpapergate in a hotly-contested series, Du Plessis led the Proteas to the Promised Land through a 3-1 series victory – the first time South Africa beat Australia at home since Ali Bacher’s legends of 1969-70.

2. Whitewash 5-0

Du Plessis always looked forward to playing Australia as “the ultimate challenge in the game” and took immense pride in being able to beat them. He also kept his best individual performances for the boys clad in Baggy Greens or canary yellow. No Australian team had ever been whitewashed 5-0 in an ODI series until Du Plessis’ Proteas knocked them over in a superb series in 2016. The pictures on that balmy night at Newlands tell it all with Du Plessis holding up his hand and showing all five fingers!

3. Beating Australia in Australia

Having made a glorious Test debut in Adelaide four years previously where his marathon innings saved the second Test, Du Plessis returned as captain next time around in 2016. He led the Proteas to a magical performance in Perth which secured the first Test before the bowlers blew away the Aussies in Hobart to secure South Africa’s third consecutive Test series win Down Under. This had only previously been achieved by the mighty West Indies teams of the 1980’s.

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Two cricket captains: Kane Williamson from New Zealand and Faf Du Plessis from South Africa. Photo: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

Faf’s lowest 3

1. World Cup 2019 nightmare

“Lowest point (of my career).” “Embarrassing.” These were some of the words Du Plessis used to describe the Proteas’ 2019 World Cup campaign as they slumped from one defeat to another. It was not just the performances on the field that “chipped away” at Du Plessis but all dramas outside of it that just became too much. From AB de Villiers’s retirement U-turn to the management of Dale Steyn’s injury, the World Cup in England is one tournament Du Plessis would like to erase from his memory.

2. Achilles heel: Sri Lanka (home and away)

Du Plessis suffered the embarrassment of being in charge of the first Proteas team to lose a Test series to a subcontinent team at home when Sri Lanka humiliated the Proteas 2-0 in 2019. “It’s probably up there with the most disappointed I have been, certainly from a personal perspective but also for the team,” Du Plessis said after the eight-wicket thrashing in Port Elizabeth. A previous visit to the islands was equally challenging with the Proteas being hammered 2-0 in Sri Lanka in 2018 too.

3. #Mintgate

The 2016 tour of Australia was action-packed with Hashim Amla being called a “terrorist” in Hobart and the Proteas security guard becoming involved in much-publicised scuffle with a Fox News reporter at the airport. But that was child’s play until Du Plessis was charged with ball tampering for using the saliva from his chewing gum to shine the ball. Du Plessis vehemently denied the charges, but the ICC upheld it and the Proteas skipper was fined 100% of his match fee. 

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Faf du Plessis leaves the field after losing his wicket during day two of the third cricket test between South Africa and England in Port Elizabeth in January 2020. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Sheehan

Faf’s Test record as captain

Matches: 36

Won: 18

Lost 15

Drawn: 3

Overall Test batting average: 39.80

Test batting average as captain: 38.92

Faf’s ODI record as captain

Matches: 39

Won: 28

Lost: 10

No result: 1

Overall ODI batting average: 47.70

ODI batting average as captain: 57.62

Faf’s T20I record as captain

Matches: 37

Won: 23

Lost: 13

Overall T20I batting average: 35.86

T20I batting average as captain: 37.44



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