During the announcement of Graeme Smiths permanent appointment as South Africa Director of Cricket, it was confirmed that Quinton de Kock will not be considered for test captaincy.
This shock announcement has suddenly raised lots of questions over who will be the next man to lead South Africa in the longer format of the game with Faf du Plessis having relinquished the role earlier this year.
With the test team underperforming and going through a major transition phase, there are lots of arguments for and against many players within the set up.
Two years ago, this would have been a sure appointment. Markram has been touted as a future Proteas captain since he led the South African u19s to a World Cup title in 2014.
Markram soon made the step up to the biggest stage of cricket as he slotted into the opening slot with Dean Elgar and produced runs for fun across his first few matches.
However, since then, Markram has had a number of issues with injury and form which has seen him miss out on lots of cricket as well as had his place in the squad questioned.
Markram hasn’t made a test match century since March 2018 and although he still boasts an average close to 40, he hasn’t quite nailed his position down.
His leadership skills are undoubted with the young opener already having captained the side in limited overs, but considering that he still has not settled in entirely within the realms of international cricket, the captaincy would seem to have come too soon for him although a prolonged period of good form will once again have his name put back in the hat.
The most experienced player in the team after Faf du Plessis and a stalwart within the test match arena, Dean Elagr offers a safe and calm head of shoulders to give the captaincy to. While his numbers with the bat have been below his standards in the last 12 months, one cannot quickly forget how prolific he was in 2018 where he was in the top three leading runs scorers in the format in the world.
With his 33rd birthday looming, Elgar is hardly a long-term solution, but could offer a good interim choice as Mark Boucher crafts a team full of youngster until a time when a younger candidate such as Markram is ready to take over.
Elgar is quiet, gritty and a hard worker which could be just what South Africa needs right now given the turmoil of the previous few years although his captaincy ability on the field is still a large question mark.
Rassie van der Dussen
A surprise candidate, but oddly enough, my first choice in the current situation. Van der Dussen has had a late entry into internatinal cricket although he has taken to it like a duck to water.
A newcomer of just four tests to date, van der Dussen has already shown he has the ability and more importantly the temperament to play intenational cricket. He currently averages 31, 34 and 70 across T20s, ODIs and test matches with his last outing in a Protea test shirt a terrific knock of 98 in a losing effort against England at the Wanderers.
At 31-years-old, he is also by no means a long term solution, but appears to be someone brimming with confidence and settled within his game. He has a calm demeanor about him and hasn’t said a word wrong in the interviews he has given since becoming a national player.
What is van der Duessens biggest asset appears to be his willingness to take responsibility and put his hand up when the situation requires it. He has already played a couple of match winning knocks which displayed his temparemant brilliantly.
While not a captain at franchise level, van der Dussen understands what it means to play for the badge given the long wait he had before getting the chance to do it. At the moment he seems to be answering any call given with distinction and this could be no different. It would of course be a big gamble, but so is just about anyone’s appointment at the moment.
Rabada not an option
In my opinion, unless under very special circumstances, Rabada should never hold the captaincy arm band while playing for South Africa.
Now before we all get upset, this is by no means a testament to his leadership or playing ability or who is he as a person.
Rabada remains the most important player in the team and the spearhead of a very young and inexperienced bowling attack, the fact that he is just shy of 25 shows you just how inexperienced.
He has everything you could ever want in a bowler; speed, accuracy, swing and most importantly aggression which is also unfortunately takes him out of the running as captain.
Rabada’s passion is what makes him such a good bowler, and has also seen him banned twice for various acts deemed unsportsmanlike by the ICC. The fairness of these sanctioons are largely up to debate but the last thing you want to do is remove any part of fire in his belly which gets him to fire in a150 km/h yorker crashing into middle stump.
A quiet personality off the pitch, Rabada certainly has leadership abilities, but ones more suited to backing up someone and being an important presence in the changeroom.
The second reason I don’t see him as a candidate is because, quite simply, he is a bowler and captaincy has always been a predominantly batsman orientated responsibility for a reason.
Bowlers are often quite confrontational and passionate by nature. This means they can often act on their passion and emotion in a situation that can require a calm head. Juggling a bowling line-up remains one of the most difficult jobs of a captain and not one that should be left with an emotional bowler determind to find the outside edge of a batsman that has consistently been sending him to the boundary.
A player that always divides opinion, Bavuma as a test match batsman has been debated over and over again. The gritty number six has only just recently made a return to the side after being dropped following a poor patch of form.
He went on to make two centuries at domestic level and promptly found himself back in the team. Bavuma has since found a great patch of form within limited overs cricket and looks to have once again found himseld neestled comdortably in the one day format.
A humble and reserved person, Bavuma has had to overcome the odds at every turn to get where he is and is an example of someone who has to respond to his critics everytime he puts his pads on.
His future as captain was first mentioned by Proteas assistant coach Enoch Nkwe who has worked with Bavuma a lot at a domestic level.
There are a lot of pros that can be attached to this appointment, however, for a player who has struggled with form and one who is always under the microscope, now seems the best time for him to stay away from a bit of the limelight and slowly craft his way into becoming one of the top batsman within the side which he is certainly capable of doing.
Whichever way you look at it, Mark Boucher has a big decision to make when he announces who will lead the team out in their next red ball fixture. Given that the team is in a transitional phase, I would be very surprised if the appointment is one that will still be in effect in few years time.