Former Proteas captain and the most senior batsman in the current squad, Faf du Plessis, has announced his retirement from Test cricket.
Du Plessis, 36, played 69 Tests for the Proteas, scoring 10 centuries and 21 half-centuries and finishes with 4,163 runs at an average of 40.
‘It has been a year of refinement in the fire for us all. Uncertain were the times, but they brought clarity for me in many respects,’ Du Plessis said. ‘My heart is clear, and the time is right to walk into a new chapter. It has been an honour to play for my country in all the formats of the game, but the time has come for me to retire from Test cricket.
‘If someone had told me 15 years ago, that I would play 69 Test matches for South Africa and captain the side, I wouldn’t have believed them. I stand in a place of utmost gratitude for a career full of blessings bestowed on me. Every high and low has shaped me into the man I am proud to stand as today. In all things, those instances worked towards the good of who I believe I am today.’
Du Plessis lamented the recent postponement of the Australian tour, saying that it would have been an ideal way to end his Test career. Du Plessis made his Test debut against Australia in Adelaide in the 2012-13 season, scoring 78 and 110* in a memorable draw, during which he batted for four-and-a-half sessions to save the Test.
‘I really wanted to finish with the upcoming Test series against Australia. That would have felt like it has all come full circle. I had that clarity of mind and heart and even though the ending is not how I imagined, the clarity remains,’ Du Plessis told Independent Media.
Du Plessis said he would continue to play white-ball cricket for South Africa, as well as pursue T20 opportunities around the world.
‘The next two years are ICC T20 World cup years. Because of this, my focus is shifting to this format and I want to play as much of it as possible around the world so that I can be the best player I can possibly be. I strongly believe that I have a lot to offer to the Proteas in this format. This does not mean that ODI cricket is no longer in the plans, I’m just making T20 cricket the priority in the short-term,’ he explained.
‘I will be in conversation with CSA over the next couple of months on what the future might look like for me over the next year to find a solution that works for both of us.’
He stepped down from the captaincy following the last Test series against England (concluded in early 2020) to focus on his batting. As captain he won 17 of the 27 Tests he led in.
Du Plessis will continue to be available for the Proteas in white-ball cricket, and has indicated his desire to be part of the World T20 later this year.