Cape Town - Faf du Plessis has announced that he is stepping down from his role as captain of the Proteas' Test and T20 teams, effective immediately.
The 35-year-old has cited a need to take a step back from captaincy in order to help facilitate the emergence of the next generation of leaders within the team under the new stewardship of Quinton de Kock.
With a calendar that is jam-packed with international tours both home and away, including the T20 World Cup in Australia this October and November, Du Plessis would like to concentrate on contributing to the team as a batsman and senior player who will offer guidance and advice to the new leadership group as part of their succession planning.
Du Plessis captained South Africa in a total of 112 international matches across all three formats since December 2012 when he led South Africa for the very first time against New Zealand in a T20 series.
The hosts won that three-match contest 2-1. Since then, he has scored 5 101 runs in all formats as captain, amassing 11 centuries and 28 half-centuries. He led the Proteas in several famous victories, including the team's 5-0 inbound ODI series and 2-1 outbound Test series victories against Australia in 2016.
"The last few weeks of rest away from the game have given me a lot of perspective on the great privilege and honour I have had in representing and leading my country in the three formats of this wonderful game. It has been a rewarding, sometimes tough and other times a lonely road, but I would not replace the experience for anything, because it has made me the man that I am proud to be today," Du Plessis said via a press statement released on Monday.
Du Plessis continued: "When I took over the leadership, I did so with the commitment to lead, perform and most importantly, to serve. As the team heads into a new direction with new leaders and a young crop of players, I feel it will be in the best interests of South African cricket to relinquish the captaincy in all formats. This was one of the toughest decisions to make, but I remain fully committed to supporting Quinton, Mark and my team-mates as we continue to rebuild and re-align as a group.
"After the 2019 ICC World Cup, I made the decision to continue in my role as captain while the team went through a rebuilding phase following the retirement of some key senior players and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff that we had worked with until then. It was important to me that I stayed to help the team find its feet and plot a new way forward while assisting in identifying the next generation of leaders within the players' group during a time of turbulence in SA cricket. The last season of my captaincy has been the most challenging to date as I had a lot of off-field issues that I devoted my energy towards.
"I have strived to lead the team with dignity and authenticity during exhilarating highs and devastating lows. I have given my everything during my tenure. I have never been one to throw in the towel and do believe I am putting the team first and believe we have to stick through the tough times to get to the good times. In a perfect world I would have loved to lead the team in the Tests for the rest of the season as well as the T20 World Cup, but sometimes the most important attribute of a leader is to be selfless. I am healthy, fit, energised and motivated and certainly see myself playing an important role in the squad for as long as I continue putting in winning performances for the team.
"South African cricket has entered a new era. New leadership, new faces, new challenges and new strategies. I remain committed to play in all three formats of the game for now as a player and will offer my knowledge and time to the new leaders of the team.
"Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported me in my captaincy throughout the years - my wife and daughter, family, teammates, Proteas coaching staff, management and selectors, CSA Board and staff, friends and fans of South African cricket. It has been the greatest honour of my life to lead my country," Du Plessis concluded.
CSA's Acting CEO, Jacques Faul, expressed his thanks to Du Plessis for his contribution to South African cricket and his stellar leadership of the Proteas.
"Faf's record as player and captain speaks for itself," commented Faul. "He has maintained the high standards he set for himself when he made a match-saving Test match century in Australia on debut in spite of the added responsibilities and pressures that come with leadership.
"He is the only South African captain to have won home and away series against Australia - one of the benchmark nations of the game - in both Test match and ODI cricket and he also won a one-off T20 International series in Australia.
"He has always reserved his best performances for when the team's need was the greatest as witnessed by his debut century in Australia, his century against India at the Imperial Wanderers that almost enabled the Proteas to pull off a record fourth innings runs chase and his century as captain in the pink ball Test at Adelaide when he was under enormous pressure both on and off the field.
"His latest decision reminds us all of the manner in which he has always put the team first. Following the retirement of Vernon Philander he and Dale Steyn are the last survivors of the golden generation that took the Proteas to the top of the Test rankings and he still has a vital role to play as we bridge the gap between one generation and the next.
"I am sure he will continue to add much value to the Proteas both on the field and in the dressing room in the final chapter of his outstanding career," concluded Faul.