South Africa has opted for a three-way captaincy split. Faf du Plessis has been handed the honours in the T20 format, while AB de Villiers remains as captain in the one-day format, and Graeme Smith is set as Test skipper. It’s a bold move by the South Africans, and while it might not be the most conventional, it might not be the worst move ever, either. By ANT SIMS.
South Africa has opted for a split captaincy solution, with AB de Villiers stepping down from the role in T20 cricket and Faf du Plessis taking the reins on a permanent basis. De Villiers will retain the role in the one-day format, while Graeme Smith remains in side of the Test team - meaning South Africa now has three different captains for the three different formats.
Du Plessis captained the T20 side to a series victory over New Zealand in December, and has captained at school level and with the A-team. He’s no stranger to the role, and coach Gary Kirsten believes the split captaincy allows the Proteas to split their resources across all formats, providing Du Plessis with the chance to expand his experience as a leader.
“Handing Faf the T20 captaincy is an exciting option for us to explore our leadership resources,” comments national coach Kirsten. “He showed a lot of potential during the series against New Zealand in both the T20 and ODI formats, and this will be another great opportunity for him to work on his role as a leader.
“Having three captains also allows us to spread the resources amongst our three formats, with Graeme (Smith) and AB (de Villiers) also providing the ideal support in the Test and ODI formats. This is an important year for our limited overs squads, and this new direction is an exciting step forward.”
Graeme Smith still forms part of the ODI side, and there are several senior players who can lend a hand when the going gets a bit tough. With a year loaded with short-format matches, including the ICC Champions Trophy, Kirsten reckons it’s a good time to blood the new generation of leaders.
“South African cricket has been fortunate to have been sustained by the excellent leadership qualities of Graeme and other senior role players over the years, and we feel that this is the opportune time for us to begin developing the next tier of leaders to take the Proteas brand forward in the future,” he explains.
The announcement of the split-captaincy role followed the announcement of the squads for the ODI and T20 series against Pakistan. While Morne Morkel is expected to be fit to play for the ODI series, he has been replaced by Kyle Abbott in the T20 squad.
Dale Steyn is also being rested from the T20 side, while Henry Davids, Aaron Phangiso, Chris Morris and Quinton de Kock are all included, following their stints against New Zealand.
De Kock, however, has been dropped from the ODI side and is replaced by David Miller, meaning De Villiers will take over the gloves again. Jacques Kallis will also be rested from the one-day side, while Hashim Amla has asked to take a sabbatical from the shortest format of the game in order to focus on Tests and ODI matches.
With the Champions Trophy in England happening in June, the ODI series against Pakistan is South Africa's last chance to tinker and tweak the side before the squads for the tournament need to be submitted.
It’s a bold move by the South Africans, and while England did previously try it, the Proteas find themselves in a slightly different situation - moving towards having their T20 side more specialised and focused. Russell Domingo is in charge of the T20 set-up as coach, while Kirsten remains at the helm of the ODI and Test sides, allowing room for experimentation in the shortest format.
There are just four players in the T20 side who feature in all three formats, and just three of those are regulars in the Test side. Innovation is often hammered on in cricket, especially with the fast-paced nature of the shortest format of the game, and while the move is certainly innovative, it will no doubt be without criticism.
Conventional cricket wisdom does suggest that having one captain across all formats, or at least one captain for the limited overs side, is the slightly safer option, but with a rather large discrepancy between the different squads, the complete split might not be the worst decision ever made by the South African brains trust.
ODI squad: AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Twenty20 squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Chris Morris, Justin Ontong, Robbie Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe. DM
Photo: South Africa's AB de Villiers (L) and Faf du Plessis adjust their helmets while batting together at the Adelaide cricket ground during the fourth day's play of their second cricket test match, in Adelaide November 25, 2012. REUTERS/Regi Varghese