Clarity needed on captaincy issue
There was some concern a while ago that leadership was going to be a problem when the older group of players in the Protea squad get to the retirement stage.
In the professional sporting arena very few people are indispensable and the perceived captaincy crisis has already sorted itself out. AB de Villiers stepped into the breach as far as one-day and T20 cricket is concerned and now Faf du Plessis has proved that he is more than capable of doing the job as well.
Du Plessis captained the team well in the recently completed T20 series. He led from the front with the bat in the first two matches. He was also sound tactically during the series and stayed calm under pressure. He will face sterner tests than a severely depleted and weak New Zealand side provided but he came through this initial baptism of fire very well.
AB and Faf are great friends. The convenor of selectors and the coaching staff should do everything in their power to preserve this relationship. The last thing the team needs is conflict as to who will captain the team in the shortened versions of the game. A definitive statement from the selectors in this respect is essential.
Communication hasn’t always been a strong point in recent times judging by the Thami Tsolekile issue. Therefore it is important that for the sake of clarity and team harmony that the captaincy issue is addressed going forward.
If AB de Villiers is to remain the T20 captain he has to play in the T20 series that are on offer. South Africa face a formidable challenge from Pakistan in T20 cricket at the end of February and it is important that the best possible combination takes the field in that series.
Progress was made against New Zealand. The squad selected for this series showed far more intensity, flair and aggression than we have seen in recent times. The speed and agility of the players were a joy to behold. There was also a fearless approach, which bodes well for the future.
The nucleus of this squad should be persevered with. AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn will more than likely be drafted back into the squad. So will JP Duminy when he recovers from his injury. They may well be the only players to be recalled from the senior group who has played in most of the matches over the last few years. The ICC T20 World Cup is a fair way away and the time is right now to move on to a different group of players in an attempt to embrace a winning strategy in this respect.
The T20 matches against Pakistan in February will be a good indication of where the Proteas are in terms of their T20 standings. Pakistan, unlike the Kiwis, are a real force in T20 cricket. They have a number of match winners that will be a threat even under South African conditions.
The recent series against New Zealand was a good starting point for a new team. The upcoming series against Pakistan will be a step up, which is a good thing. I expect it will be a tense series that will provide T20 cricket of the highest quality.