Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis is under pressure from all sides in the current series against England.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
The popular captain has been at the helm during a period of decline, and the inclination is to lay a lot of those failures at his feet.
As captain, he took a lot of the blame for the humiliating series defeat to Sri Lanka particularly the one-wicket loss in the first Test where he appeared to be asleep at the wheel.
Du Plessis’s crowning achievement as Test captain was the home and away series wins against Australia, but those have now become a distant memory. Professional sport is an unforgiving arena plagued by short memories.
As a captain, Du Plessis may still have time to turn things around, but in order to cash in that time, he needs to produce runs. It has now been a year since Du Plessis notched a Test century. His most valuable innings of the current series was his gritty 29 off 120 balls in the first innings of the Centurion Test against England.
Du Plessis had been the glue holding a faltering Proteas batting lineup together, but the steady decline seems to have taken its toll on his form.
With the Proteas and South African cricket, in general, moving through a period of transition, Du Plessis might be lost in the tumult if he cannot provide the stability the team needs from him both as captain and as a batsman.
Every player in the Proteas XI needs to carry their weight from a playing point of view, and the skipper cannot be exempt from that.
Du Plessis can no longer even afford to be the best batsman in a struggling team. The pressure is on him to produce runs and bat time in the middle order in winning efforts.
At 35-years-old Du Plessis doesn’t appear to have very long to go in his career. There are only a handful of Test matches before the T20 World Cup which could be the point at which Du Plessis calls time on his international career.
As an experienced skipper, Du Plessis holds value to the Test team even over a short period of time, but he can only hold onto the position if he can step up with the bat.