JOHANNESBURG: Faf du Plessis, one of South African cricket’s most distinguished leaders, has announced his retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect.
The 36-year-old announced on Wednesday that he was stepping away from the longest format of the game, following a career that spanned just over eight years and 69 matches for the Proteas. He will, however, remain available for the Proteas in limited-overs cricket.
Du Plessis’ statement is as follows:
“It has been a year of refinement in the fire for us all. Uncertain were the times, but they brought clarity for me in many respects. My heart is clear, and the time is right to walk into a new chapter. It has been an honour to play for my country in all the formats of the game, but the time has come for me to retire from Test cricket.
“If someone had told me 15 years ago, that I would play 69 Test matches for South Africa and captain the side, I wouldn’t have believed them. I stand in a place of utmost gratitude for a career full of blessings bestowed on me. Every high and low has shaped me into the man I am proud to stand as today. In all things, those instances worked towards the good of who I believe I am today.
“The next two years are ICC T20 World cup years. Because of this, my focus is shifting to this format and I want to play as much of it as possible around the world so that I can be the best player I can possibly be. I strongly believe that I have a lot to offer to the Proteas in this format. This does not mean that ODI cricket is no longer in the plans, I’m just making T20 cricket the priority in the short-term.
“I will be in conversation with CSA over the next couple of months on what the future might look like for me over the next year to find a solution that works for both of us.
“For now, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who had an influence on my Test career. I would like to single out my wife and family in particular – I would not have been able to do without their support during the unforgettable journey that Test cricket has taken me on. To my coaches, teammates and support staff over the years, I would also like to give a note of thanks and of course, to Cricket South Africa for the opportunity to be able to represent and lead my country in the pinnacle of the game we all love. It has been an incredible journey, with many stories that I look forward to one day sharing.”
A top-order batsman of great tenacity and determination, he will be remembered as one of the country’s best captains with an impressive record of 10 centuries, 21 half-centuries and 4 163 runs at an average of 40.02.
Du Plessis announced himself unequivocally in the format when he scored 78 and 110 not-out on debut against Australia, becoming and remaining the only South African to have scored a half-century and century on Test debut. His match-saving 110* in the fourth innings of that match also remains the longest a South African has batted in the fourth innings of a Test match, at 466 minutes.
The Pretoria-born right-hander, who 12 months ago relinquished the captaincy of the Proteas, produced one of his finest innings for South Africa as recently as seven weeks ago when he scored 199 for the Proteas in their first Test match of the summer against Sri Lanka at his home ground in Centurion.
“Faf has been a prolific Test cricketer for the Proteas for a number of years now and to lose him in this format is going to leave another big gap in the team,” Cricket South Africa (CSA) Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, commented.
“His commitment to the team has always been undoubtable and his transparency with Cricket South Africa about his plans has always been appreciated and we respect his decision, knowing he would not have come by it easily.
“I would like to thank Faf on behalf of CSA for his years of service and dedication to the Proteas’ Test team and we look forward to engaging further with him on how he can continue contributing to the team in a meaningful way,” Smith concluded.
Pholetsi Moseki, CSA Acting Chief Executive Officer said: “Faf is a shining testimony of what one can achieve if they commit to it. His patriotism to cricket, impeccable leadership qualities, coupled with his insatiable commitment to imparting knowledge to budding cricketers speaks volumes of the rich legacy that he leaves behind.
“Much as CSA is saddened to see him retire from the longest format of the game, we are however comforted by the fact that he will still be part of our system, where his immense contribution awaits.
“CSA would like to thank Faf for dedicating the better part of his life to cricket and making South Africa proud on and off the field. He has certainly earned himself a special place in our hearts and a favourable chapter in the ledgers of history.”