Mon, 24 Feb 2020

Cape Town - Faf du Plessis says he remains committed to captaining the Proteas despite suggestions that he could be nearing the end of his tenure.

South Africa lost the third Test to England by an innings-and-53-runs on Monday to go 2-1 down in the four-match series, while Du Plessis has come in for particular criticism for his lean run of batting form.

The 35-year-old days he has been aware of the uncertainty surrounding his immediate future, but reiterated his desire to stay involved until after this year's T20 World Cup in Australia in September.

"I've heard there are a lot of rumours about retirement, but I think I've been pretty clear with you guys that I have committed myself to CSA until the T20 World Cup," Du Plessis told media at St George's Park.

"There isn't a lot of Test cricket left this year. There is one massive Test match where we need everyone to be as strong as possible to try and draw the series, then afterwards there is quite a big gap and an opportunity to release some of that responsibility in terms of captaincy to give guys opportunities, particularly in ODI cricket to look to the future.

"There are two Tests in West Indies and the rest of the year is white ball stuff.

"Most probably, I don't know, after that then Test cricket will be something that won't see me. But that is a decision that I will only make then, as I've been saying for a while."

Du Plessis is expected to step away from the ODI captaincy for the upcoming three-match series against England, but he still in the frame to take the side to the T20 World Cup.

And, listening to him on Monday, it seems that Du Plessis is still keen on taking the side to the West Indies in July.

The pressure, however, has gotten to him.

"I try to block it out, as one should do, but myself and everyone else in the dressing room are not robots so it does get to you," he said.

"At the moment there are quite a few of us that are under-performing and that's a fact ... myself included. 20s and 30s have never won Test matches and will never win Test matches. For me, it's about trying to be as mentally strong as possible and block out the noise."

Du Plessis acknowledged that his Test form was not good enough.

"Personally, from a runs point of view, I'm not up to the level where I should be, but I've still got a huge role to play as a captain to make sure I lift these guys up," he said.

"If I'm brutally honest with myself, white ball cricket at the moment is probably where I'm at my most successful.

"In ODI cricket my stats are up there with the best in the world, in T20 my stats are up there. In Test cricket my stats are not where they need to be. From an average point of view, averaging 40 or 41, I need to be better than that. As a batting unit our standards need to be better, and at the moment I am not acquiring those stats."

Leadership, though, is something that Du Plessis continues to embrace.

"It's a character builder and you try and make sure you learn as much about yourself as possible, even in the tough times, so that you can be strong for someone else," he said.

"It's a tough time, but there is no running away from it.

"The worst thing a leader can do is pull the plug mid-series and say 'sorry boys. I'm out.'

"I think that's what leadership is all about ... you have to stick through the tough times as well."

The fourth Test gets underway on Friday.

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