Cape Town – Two of Australia’s most legendary Test captains
have joined a swelling lobby favouring retention of Faf du Plessis as the
Proteas’ captain in the format.
Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell both said in the aftermath of
South Africa’s crushing 177-run triumph over the Baggy Greens in the first Test
at the WACA on Monday that they had been impressed by the (currently caretaker)
leadership of Du Plessis.
By contrast, several Aussie pundits and scribes have rounded
on their country’s own captain Steve Smith over his role in the reverse, that
country’s first suffered in the opening home Test of the summer since 1988/89.
Leg-spin legend Shane Warne, for example, accused Smith of
“bad captaincy” over his controversially limited use at times of off-spinner
Nathan Lyon during South Africa’s marathon second innings which lasted more
than 160 overs and some 700 minutes.
In stark contrast, Taylor, who led the Aussies in a
productive era between 1994 and 1999, specifically praised Du Plessis for the
way he used his Dale Steyn-depleted attack in the drive toward triumph.
“He rallied his troops extremely well,” Taylor told
SuperSport’s Mike Haysman in post-match analysis. “It is not an easy task at
all when you lose your strike bowler.”
Channel 9 commentary stalwart Chappell, meanwhile, who never
lost a series as Australian captain in his tenure between 1971 and 1975,
advised the Proteas to extend Du Plessis’s captaincy, even though he is only
acting as temporary national skipper in both Tests and one-day internationals
while AB de Villiers is absent through injury.
“I’d be saying (when he returns) ‘look, AB, just concentrate
on your batting’ …. it doesn’t necessarily look to me as if he actually wants
“Faf looks like the type of player buoyed by the extra
responsibilities; he’s proved to me in this Test match that he’s a fine captain
of his country.”
Cricket South Africa’s intention, as things stand, is for Du
Plessis, 32, to be curtailed to captaincy of the Proteas’ Twenty20 team, a role
he assumed full-time in February 2013.
But his record in charge in Tests and ODIs in recent weeks
-- a period which has seen former Affies schoolmate De Villiers constantly
sidelined -- is an undoubtedly glowing one, featuring eight wins in a row
across the two formats, including six against arch-rivals the Aussies (a
five-ODI clean sweep, plus the Perth Test).
The others are a 204-run, series-deciding Test victory over
New Zealand at SuperSport Park when he notched a personal century for the cause,
and a once-off ODI thrashing of Ireland by 206 runs at Benoni.
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