South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said on Monday that the fourth and final Test against England could be his last on home soil.
England skipper Joe Root may have failed to deliver with the bat, but the 29-year-old starred with the ball to bundle out hosts South Africa for 237 and help the visitors register an impressive win by an innings and 53 runs in the third Test. The victory helped the visitors take a 2-1 lead in the four-Test series.
du Plessis has been under the pump for failing to score runs in the longest format, averaging 21.25 in 12 innings since October 2019 and not being able to score a century in more than a year. South Africa play only two Tests in the winter, against the West Indies, before the T20 World Cup, which du Plessis has indicated will be his swansong.
Asked if the fourth Test could be his final one at home, du Plessis was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo: “Yes, most definitely, it is a possibility. What I didn’t want to do is make a decision on emotion.
“It’s just about trying to be the strongest leader that I can be for the team. For now, that’s committing to this series. The worst thing a leader can do is pull the plug mid-series and say, ‘Sorry boys, I am out. I’ve had enough.’ I don’t think that’s what’s leadership is about. You have to stick through the tough times as well. After the T20 World Cup, I will reassess where I am.”
“There isn’t a lot of Test cricket left this year. There’s one massive Test where we need everyone to be as strong as possible to try and draw the series,” he added.
Du Plessis is also likely to give up ODI captaincy as early as Tuesday, when South Africa name their squad to play England in three matches starting February 4.
“If I am brutally honest with myself, at the moment white-ball cricket is where I am most successful. In one-day cricket, my stats are up there with the best in the world. In T20 cricket, my stats are up there, but at the moment in Test cricket, my stats are not where they need to be. If you leave the team when they need you most, that’s not my style,” he said.
“One thing that I’ve always shown is that I have been under pressure a lot of times as a player and I’ve come through those times. In tough circumstances, I’ve played my best innings. I think that speaks for itself. I can’t leave the team when they need me most, as one of the leaders in the team. We are in a transition, but I can’t do it forever and it has been chipping away. For now, it’s what we need. I think it will make it worse if I say I’m out,” he added.
The fourth Test will be played at Johannesburg from January 24.