Succession: It’s just AB or Faf

2014-03-04 23:38

Cape Town – Former “Affies” schoolmates AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis are the lone candidates to really jump out for replacing Graeme Smith as Test captain of South Africa.

 Cricket South Africa say there is no special rush in naming the successor, after almost 11 years of virtually uninterrupted and often inspiring leadership from Smith, as the winter trips to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe are still several months away.

It raises the possibility that one of the duo, the 29-year-old Du Plessis, will be particularly closely assessed as skipper of the Proteas’ team at the looming next major global event, the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh later this month.

Many would consider him the second favourite right now, with De Villiers, 30, arguably the most appealing candidate on the grounds of his more established captaincy of the one-day international side – he has done that job since January 2012 – and revered pedigree as a player.

After all, he has been the most recent vice-captain to Smith at Test level, so if natural progression is to be obeyed, he is the chosen one.

But Du Plessis, with whom De Villiers first played for the Affies 1st XI from Standard 7 level, also has his well-developed fan club for leadership.

As critic and former Proteas stroke-player Daryll Cullinan noted on on Tuesday following Smith’s rather sudden vacating of the Test post, “there is also a strong thought that Du Plessis is the man to lead South Africa now”.

Cullinan feels it is a “tall order” to expect De Villiers, a critical runs-scorer and the incumbent Test wicketkeeper – he also considers him the best batsman in the world when all formats are combined – to assume the five-day reins on top of his ODI leadership load.

Certainly Du Plessis will look an even more attractive prospect for the Test job if he steers the Proteas to a very advanced stage or victory itself at the World T20: South Africa have never yet even made the final of that tournament in four attempts.

That said, De Villiers has a special aura as a player and an undoubtedly strong public persona; he has certainly handled the “PR” side of his ODI captaincy with some aplomb thus far, even if T20 counterpart Du Plessis is no slouch there either.

He has candidly admitted at times that the task has been a difficult and even painful one, especially given the many years in which Smith previously also led the ODI cause and built up mountains of experience.

But the very fact that he has gone through a school of hard knocks, during a time of transition for the one-day side, probably stands De Villiers in good stead.

Under his tenure, signs are emerging now that the team is coming together at a good time, bearing the 2015 World Cup in mind – the recent 2-0 disposal on our shores of defending champions India was an encouraging outcome.

Illuminatingly, De Villiers has also shown impressive evidence that the needs of leadership do not wear him down at all from a personal performance point of view.

Just three matches into his tenure as ODI skipper, De Villiers strung together a stellar sequence of innings of 96, 125 not out and 106 not out, and his last seven knocks in the format have seen him register two centuries, two scores of 70-plus and another of 48 not out: he is a bastion of reliability and match-winning potential even as he has so many other things on his mind.

“If it does come my way, it would be a huge honour,” De Villiers told an Australian television audience as the inevitable question of Test succession was raised while he paid tribute to retiring comrade Smith on eventful Tuesday at Newlands.

There are desperately few realistic other candidates for the SA Test captaincy, unless someone like Hashim Amla is having an unexpected change of heart about the extra burden.

But near-metronomic batsman Amla has had leadership before, both at franchise and international level, and quickly turned his back on it: that situation is quite likely to be unchanged.

Who else? Some members of the current – and unusually embattled right now – Test team are not assured enough of their spots to be considered.

Nor are we in a South African era where a bowler (still not generally the norm worldwide) leaps out and grabs you as captaincy material, something that was different when Shaun Pollock made himself available for the job for a couple of years, ahead of the lengthy Smith chapter.

Yes, I lean the AB de Villiers way ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Reagan Hendricks - 2014-03-04 23:43

    shut the hell up Cullinan!

      Ken Alles - 2014-03-05 00:06

      Personally i won't make one of them Captain. Need to do the same as AUS and Eng did. Get a young upcoming player groom him for a year or two and make him the Captain...

      Henk Brand - 2014-03-05 04:15

      So Ken Alles, what happens during that year or two while the grooming takes place? It would then have to be AB or Faf, wouldn't it?

      shaunswindon - 2014-03-05 07:43

      Hashim Amla is the Man for the job but for whatever the reason he does not want the title?

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-05 07:57

      @Ken Alles...Michael Clarke became captain of the ODI and Test squads after Ponting stood down after the 2011 World Cup. MC is already 33 years old. They groomed him for longer than just a year or two.

      Keiran Reilly - 2014-03-05 11:09

      @Ken - I would agree with you but noone stands out as an option really. @Shawn - Not only does Hash not want it but the SAB thing could be an issue if he were made captain. That would be a ton of exposure for them to miss out on.

      Ken Alles - 2014-03-05 15:01

      The reason why PUP was made captain in 2011 was because Ricky stayed on Longer than expected. When he first came in the Squad everyone knew he would be the new and next Captain. I'm Sorry to say but AB nor Faf has the Captain mentality. At the moment i don't see any one which could lead the Test team to be honest.

      Ken Alles - 2014-03-05 15:03

      *doesn't have the Captain mentality

  • bruce.hall.50115 - 2014-03-04 23:47

    Who really cares what Daryll Cullinan thinks. Smith may have had a good run as captain although his handling of the series against the Aussies hasn't been great & the decision not to make a game of the current test speaks volumes of his inability to take risks. Give me the charisma of Hansie Cronje any day!!

      Ken Alles - 2014-03-05 00:04

      How is he suppose to make a game of it at 12/3.. Be honest with yourself please...

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-05 11:33

      Bruce, Hansie Cronje had a Test batting average of 36. It's amazing how people whine that JPD's average of 32 isn't good enough for a number 6, yet Hansie's average of 36 was deemed good enough for a number 5 who also played at 4 sometimes. Steve Waugh, Michael Clarke, AB, Ian Bell all average 50 or thereabouts batting at five. Hansie's average of 36 was sub-par to say the least. He scored 6 tons in 111 innings, for a ratio of one ton for every 18.5 innings. A top batter gets a ton every ten innings max.

  • Tholakele Mngadi - 2014-03-05 01:17

    Faf who? There really is no debate here, this is just ABD's post with no questions asked. In fact Biff should have been replaced as the Test skipper the day ABD was announced as ODI captain. With an average of 7,5 in 6 innings Graemes Smith twilight was pathetic to say the least. Perhaps what CSA can do now is to groom one or two of those Under19 boys.

      Mark Newman - 2014-03-05 04:00

      Ypu obviously have no idea on cricket captaincy

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-05 08:02

      7.5 in 3 matches, but had 60 plus average against India. If we had to replace guys because the went into a slump then we would constantly have new batsmen in the line-up. Poor Michael Clarke would have been out as he struggled to find form before the Newlands test. Cricket is not soccer or rugby.

      David McCallum - 2014-03-05 08:21

      he has no idea of cricket

  • Johan Pretorius - 2014-03-05 01:39

    AB is my man. Give Quinton de Kock the task to wicket keep. That way AB can manage the field and concentrate on his brilliant batting form

      Donovan Dunn - 2014-03-05 07:35

      good idea, but remember Dhoni does it all for India..

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-05 08:05

      @Ken Dawson...Quinton de Kock will never open the batting in test cricket if he is to be wicket keeper. Will never be done...too much wear and tear on the knees. ODI and T20 for sure.

  • Piet Genade - 2014-03-05 04:24

    AB. Leads from the front and his place is rock solid in the team.

      Paul Vuma - 2014-03-05 06:17


  • Margie Devan - 2014-03-05 04:51

    Have U guys given Hashim Amla a thought for taking over from Graeme Smith. After all he is also one of our great players.

      Piet Genade - 2014-03-05 05:32

      He doesn't want the captaincy

      Paul Vuma - 2014-03-05 06:17

      I wouldn't even make him an option, he may be a decent tactician, but u also need someone who is a bit more vocal than him

      Gunner ZN - 2014-03-05 06:22

      He doesn't want it

  • Spijo Skhokho - 2014-03-05 06:02

    Just look for leadership skills, do not look at the perfomance of a player but his leadership qualities. If the is a potential in Dale Steyn then, why not?

      Paul Vuma - 2014-03-05 06:16

      Dale Steyn is not an option, not even at franchise level

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-05 11:04

      Very few teams pick a fast bowler to be captain. There is too much risk of them being injured. Look at the captains currently in cricket - Cook, Clarke, Misbah, Brendon Mac, MSD, etc. No bowlers among them. Also look at the previous Aus and Eng captains - Border, Atherton, Hussain, Waugh, Vaughan, Strauss, Ponting, Taylor. All batters. A captain ideally also needs to field in the slips. He needs to be close to the bowler and keeper so that he can quickly discuss whether or not to go for a review within the limited time allowed. It's also easier to set a field from a relatively central position. Dale is not a slip fielder, he is usually posted on the boundary somewhere because he has a good arm.

      Spijo Skhokho - 2014-03-08 07:13

      @Rich thank you for the info

  • Gunner ZN - 2014-03-05 06:18


      Michael Morris - 2014-03-05 08:06

      He is already captain of the T20 team

  • Baainaar Hofman - 2014-03-05 06:38

    Rob Houwing there is a rape case that was reported its very funny u dont post that on ur forum and i believe its a player that played in the 1992 world cup!Who can that be!Quota or white?Who gives a damn bout jennings thats jobless!

      Michael Morris - 2014-03-05 08:19

      Must be a white quota player, then???

  • Areez April - 2014-03-05 07:18

    Isn't Hashim Amla a better option than Faf Du Plessis? Du Plessis didn't really set the cricketworld on fire.

      divan.fourie.75 - 2014-03-05 07:37

      Captain is there to make good strategic decisions... Think Faf would do a great job!

      Eminence KT - 2014-03-05 07:55

      Did u read da article? Amla made it clear on many occasions dat he doesnt want extra burden hence he wana concentrate on his batting.

      Mac Naidoo - 2014-03-05 07:58

      Its easy Thamile takes over the gloves and AB captain.

  • George Radley - 2014-03-05 07:29

    Smith should have retire before the series his head was not in the game, my opinion is he led the team down at least he could have announced it before the series and hand over the captaincy. Faf and Ab both got the opportunity today to save the test. I'm sure they can both do it if they stop chasing wide deliveries.

  • Mamphiswana Vission - 2014-03-05 07:45

    only de villars can lead proteas

  • Bruce Gatland - 2014-03-05 07:58

    Aidan Markram should be national captain soon.

  • Mzwandile Brainen - 2014-03-05 08:09

    What is the weather like in cape town today?

      Lara van Rooyen - 2014-03-05 08:30

      They can take Gauteng weather and save the match.

  • Hansie Crook - 2014-03-05 08:36

    AB as an ODI captain has been found wanting most times, especially when the team is under pressure. His field placing and bowling change leaves a lot to be desired. I remember in the Pakistan ODI when he was placing a fielder in the position where the previous ball was hit. Now thats schoolboy type of field placing. He is however a very good batsman and I how he learns if he is elected as captain.

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-05 11:37

      Yeah, I remember fans going absolutely ballistic when AB bowled Albie Morkel instead of Johan Botha at the death in the game against Pak at the T20 WC. We were told then that AB is a wonderful player but too dom to be captain, and we really REALLY "needed Biff's experience" in that situation. Now Biff is too useless for words and AB is da man. As usual, SA fans only know one thing - that the player who WASN'T picked to do the job was the best man for it.

  • grant.mcgillan - 2014-03-05 08:52

    The future team dynamic will see more non European types, so, Amla would be the ideal galvanizer for such a team. Captains are chosen by peers. Amla has no choice if he is appointed, it comes with the territory in any team where a captain is required.

      Richard Barnes - 2014-03-05 11:16

      Promoting someone to captain when he has stated that he doesn't want the job is not very good people management.

  • Mzwandile Brainen - 2014-03-05 09:07

    I'm thinking of sending the rain to cape town , just because i love Grame Smith en i will mis him a lot. Smith thanks for what you have done to the proteas, please be part of the coaching staff after this game. It was too early to call it a day. You are the greatest captain the world has ever seen and will ever see. i will ask my sangoma to send the rain to cape town if we lose the 8th wicket.

  • Morne Nel - 2014-03-05 09:11

    PLEASE just not Faf. He's as useful as ice in the artic!

  • trev2 - 2014-03-05 09:31

    Give AB the captaincy but relieve him as wicket-keeper by bringing in De Kock.

  • AJ Scheepers - 2014-03-05 10:07

    Im not too keen on either Faf or AB being test captain, I think we should do what we did when Biffy came on the scene, give Elgar a contract and make him test captain, he will probably replace Smith at the top of the order anyway. If that doesn't work, AB is the only other candidate IMO.

  • Keiran Reilly - 2014-03-05 11:07

    My goodness - all AB says at every interview and press conference is how proud he is of his boys. Even if they have just blown a winning position ala Pakistan in PE a few month back. He still was so proud of his boys. No please - give us Faf. He has some steel. AB is to much of a mr nice guy.

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