Mark Boucher on Wednesday confirmed that Quinton de Kock could be relieved from his Test captaincy once the Proteas return from Pakistan. ANDRE HUISAMEN details the pros and cons of five possible candidates to replace De Kock permanently.
Pros: By the far the most experienced candidate to become captain. Some might even deem him the clear favourite. Elgar once skippered the team in England in Faf du Plessis’ absence. Despite losing the encounter, he got a real feel for the challenges of leading. Elgar is one of South African cricket’s biggest fighters and has time and time again shown his resilience when backed against the wall.
Cons: Elgar is already 33 years old and it’s unclear how long he intends to play international cricket. Of course, if he decides to push himself and remains fit, then a possible short-term stint could be the only option.
Pros: Markram has always been singled out to captain the Proteas, with expectations high since the start of his international career. Should he regain his form with the bat, Markram would be the easy pick. At 26 years, he is the perfect candidate for the long run and could be key to the Proteas’ rejuvenation in the Test format. Markram has all the talent in the world and is still the only South African cricket captain to have bagged a World Cup.
Cons: Markram’s enduring lack of runs remains worrisome. Until he reaches a level where he is consistently scoring runs again, Markram’s place in the Test team isn’t secured. He first needs to establish himself again at the top of the order before he can take on the responsibility of captaincy.
Rassie van der Dussen
Pros: The right-hander also has a lot of fight in him, preferring to do the hard yards first when out in the middle. Van der Dussen has been a good find for the Proteas across all formats. His aggressive ability complements his patience, attributes of a hard-working player. He tries to be positive whenever batting and, similar to Elgar, likes to dig deep in difficult situations.
Cons: Van der Dussen only has seven Tests to his name so far having started his international career at a fairly late stage. Last year he was hesitant to answer questions about his aspirations for the job, stating leadership should be the key characteristic of a cricket captain. Van der Dussen is 31 years old, which could be a problem if the selectors are looking for a young candidate.
Pros: Bavuma has been in the Test set-up for quite some time and has been able to test himself in frequent tricky situations. He has more than once risen above expectations when confidence in him was fairly low. Also has grit and fight in him – attributes maybe overlooked by many – while he plays his game with a lot of patience. Bavuma is a natural talent, always looking composed and in control in the middle. Appointing him as the first Black captain of the Proteas will be a historic moment.
Cons: Unfortunately, Bavuma has, like a lot of batsmen in the Test team, been lacking runs for quite some time. He has only one century to his name, having surpassed 50 only once in his last 18 innings. If that form continues, he could soon be fighting to keep his place in the team.
Pros: Maharaj didn’t mince his words when he publicly declared his ambitions to be a future Test captain. ‘I really want to captain the Proteas,’ he told the media last year, adding it has always been part of his dreams.
The left-armer has been an underrated figure in the Test set-up, always giving his best and bowls very consistently. He offers the Proteas a lot, a handy option to have in the bowling lineup.
Cons: It’s not often that a spinner captains a Test team. What happens when the Proteas decide to go for an all-out pace attack in certain conditions? South African cricket has never had a spin bowler as captain since readmission and it could prove to be a complex situation. Taking nothing way from Maharaj’s ability, Proteas Test teams always pride themselves on their fast bowlers, suited to local conditions. Maharaj wasn’t even used in the recent Test against Sri Lanka in Johannesburg. That will, unfortunately, count heavily against him.