Faf du Plessis for Proteas? Return not ruled out despite Windies omission | Sport


  • Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket Enoch Nkwe said discussions with regard to Faf du Plessis playing for the national team again are ongoing.
  • Du Plessis, who was in red-hot form for the Joburg Super Kings in the SA20, wasn’t picked for both white-ball squads for the West Indies series.
  • Nkwe said they’re thick in the water in terms of discussing a new contracting model with the South African Cricketer’s Associations.

The door on Faf du Plessis’ white-ball career hasn’t been completely closed, and Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket Enoch Nkwe said discussions are ongoing with regards to a return to the white-ball ranks.

Proteas ODI and T20 coach Rob Walter, who made his first media appearance in his position on Monday, told News24 in January that a conversation with Du Plessis wasn’t out of the question.

Du Plessis (38), a former Proteas all-format skipper, wasn’t selected in both white-ball squads for the series against the West Indies later this month.

Walter, who was the strength and conditioning coach at the Titans in the mid-2000s before he moved to the Proteas in the same portfolio, saw Du Plessis develop at close quarters in both teams.

READ | Markram replaces Bavuma as Proteas T20 captain, Duminy and Kleinveldt named as coaches

Afrikaans Sunday broadsheet publication Rapport reported that Du Plessis has met with Walter, but Nkwe was quick to say the conversation with Du Plessis was a broader one with players who aren’t in the national contracted-players group.

Du Plessis retired from Test cricket in 2021, but hasn’t fully pulled out of white-ball cricket, with his performances, especially in the SA20, being of high value.  

“There were conversations before the World Cup with the then-coach and selection panel. We did conclude those negotiations,” Nkwe said.

“We’ve always been open to talks with our freelance players and having spoken to coach Rob, he’s very interested in resuming those conversations and seeing how best we can work together moving forward.

“We’re happy to engage and see what the best way is forward.”

While the ODI and T20 squads picked for the West Indies white-ball series for later this month have a mix of the tested and the unproven, Nkwe said he was aware of the need to converse around split format contracting.

The West Indies was the first of the major cricket-playing nations to apply split-format contracting to ensure they had their best T20 players available for national duty.

The West Indies’ hand was forced by the fact that most of their players were household T20 cricket names who were availing themselves for their franchises ahead of the national team, which led to a lot of friction between the players and the board.

READ | Proteas lose fast bowling ace Nortje for second West Indies Test

South Africa hasn’t had such problems, but found themselves in a slight pickle in March last year when they had to release Indian Premier League-bound players even though they had a Test series against Bangladesh to combat.

“We’re continuously engaging SACA (the South African Cricketer’s Association) in that aspect to ensure that we remain proactive because the reality is that a lot is evolving at the moment,” Nkwe said

“We’re trying our utmost best to put our contracting front foot forward and as things stand, there is a format contract.

“Obviously, there are players who are committed to all formats, with some focusing on white-ball cricket and others on red-ball cricket.

“What we foresee in the near future, and I think even in the next 12 months, the contracting may even be format specific.”

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