Johannesburg: AB de Villiers is the most likely candidate to succeed Graeme Smith as South Africa’s Test captain, but if he is to assume the additional responsibility it might mean a change in team structure. Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock called De Villiers the “natural choice”, but warned he would have to stop keeping wickets to accept the leadership.
De Villiers is presently the Test team’s vice-captain, wicketkeeper and No. 5 batsman, and Boucher does not think he can take on any more. “I don’t think it’s viable for him to captain, bat in the top five and keep wicket,” Boucher said. “The ask is a lot. Maybe he can do it for a small period of time while South Africa look for another keeper but in the longer term, he’ll need to give up one.”
There is recent evidence to back that argument, dating back to de Villiers’ appointment as ODI captain when Smith stepped down after the 2011 World Cup. That was de Villiers’ first leadership role, having not led at school or domestic level before, and his inexperience showed.
With a strategy of a flexible batting line-up — which has since been scrapped — South Africa were a disorganised ODI unit for the first few months under de Villiers. He struggled to keep up with the pace of captaincy, quite literally, and was suspended for two matches against New Zealand in January 2013 for a slow over rate.
If South Africa want an alternative for Test captain, they won’t have to look much further than Du Plessis. He captains T20 team, has led from school level, enjoys being in charge and has shown he has the ability. His has only played 14 Tests, but already boasts a batting average over 50 and the temperament to bat for days. (Agencies)