Willing Rassie a dark horse for Proteas Test captaincy?

2020-05-14 14:26
Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)
Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)

During last year's Cricket World Cup campaign in England, when things were not going well for the Proteas, skipper Faf du Plessis identified Rassie van der Dussen as a man with the right ingredients for international captaincy. 

It was a nightmarish tournament for South Africa, who limped to a seventh-place finish overall and never threatened to make the playoffs. 

Throughout that disappointment, Van der Dussen was one of few Proteas who returned from England with his reputation enhanced, scoring 311 runs at an average of 62.20.

The Lions stalwart has hit the ground running in international cricket after his breakthrough towards the end of the 2018/19 season, and by the time England arrived this summer, he had forced his way into the Tests side. 

The Proteas went on to lose that series 3-1 with Van der Dussen playing all four matches and carding three half-centuries, including a heartbreaking 98 at the Wanderers in the fourth Test, in his first eight innings in the format. 

That England series was also Du Plessis' last as captain of the Proteas Test side and he has now stepped away from all international captaincy, though he does remain available for selection in all formats. 

Quinton de Kock has been given the reins of the ODI and T20 sides, but CSA's Director of Cricket Graeme Smith has already confirmed that he won't be giving De Kock the added responsibility of the Test captaincy. 

It means that, whenever the Proteas do get back on the park in Test cricket, it will be under a new captain. 

To complicate matters even further, there is no obvious appointment. The frontrunners for the role are seemingly Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma, but Van der Dussen's name continues to pop up while Dean Elgar has done the job in a stand-in capacity before. 

Last week, spinner Keshav Maharaj also joined the conversation

With July's two-Test tour of the West Indies in serious doubt given the ongoing fight against the global coronavirus crisis, South Africa could only next be in action in the format in December when they host Sri Lanka. 

It potentially gives the leadership ample time with their decision. 

"It's definitely something I'd be willing to do and something I think I can do," Van der Dussen told Sport24 on Thursday. 

"I'd like to see myself as a thinking cricketer, whether I'm captain or not. It's something that comes naturally to me, not only leadership in a team environment, but tactically on the field.

"The scope is much bigger when you're captain of your country, but as a person and a player I feel that whenever the pressure is more, that's where I like to be."

Van der Dussen added that any of the abovementioned possibilities had the credentials to perform the role and that the Proteas, through De Kock and the way the limited overs sides were led this summer against England and Australia, were employing an inclusive leadership style under new coach Mark Boucher that he expected to filter into the Test side too. 

"All the guys in question that the media is hyping up a bit are more than capable. It doesn't really matter who the captain will be," he said.

"Quinny is obviously captain of the white ball formats and he has a very clear vision of how he wants to play and where he wants to go. That sort of naturally feeds into the team and I think the Test captain, whoever that might be, I don't think will go too far from that blueprint that Bouch and Quinny have set up for white ball.

"Quinny is the captain and he wears the armband and makes the bowling changes, but he is very open to getting influences from other players. He is really open to exploring those options and it's never been a case of it being his way or the highway.

"I think that's vital in a team environment. It's not only going to improve the communication, but the accountability of everyone involved if you have the leadership group of four, five or more. It's an environment at the moment where we hold each other accountable, we communicate and I think the more knowledge in the conversation, the better."

It might seem a stretch given that Van der Dussen has only played four Test matches, but at 31 he comes with a wealth of experience on the domestic front and he has looked the part in every situation in international cricket. 

If composure and level-headedness in their leaders is what the Proteas brainstrust are after, then those are certainly traits that Van der Dussen has displayed so far. 

"It would be exciting and obviously a huge honour and privilege and anything that you've dreamt of, but it would also be a big responsibility," he said. 

"Whoever it is, I think the Test team would be in good hands."

Read more on:    proteas  |  rassie van der dussen  |  cricket


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