South African cricket is undergoing a renaissance with their Test skipper Faf du Plessis giving up captaincy and Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, stating that Quinton de Kock will not be given the duties like in limited-overs cricket because of workload concerns. This leaves a rather inexperienced Proteas side with very few options on the captaincy front.
With that in mind, we look at four possible leaders for the Proteas in red ball cricket.
Having experience in leading the side before, Dean Elgar is South Africa's most glaring choice on the captaincy front. A gritty opener with natural leadership qualities, Elgar is probably as close to Graeme Smith, a successful Test captain, as it comes, and the Proteas might not think twice before handing him the job.
However, what could work against Elgar is his age and current form. More of a blip for the last couple of years, South Africa will want someone with more future in the role now that they are rebuilding.
The incumbent ODI vice-captain, Temba Bavuma's career has been marred in controversy several times. The fact that he comes from a black background means his name would almost always be coupled with the ‘quota’ tag despite him justifying his position as a player.
A flamboyant batsman and a natural leader, Bavuma is a fine choice on the captaincy front but it is likely that the Proteas could face some backlash if that were to happen. Given that Bavuma isn't in the best of form either, this could also be a risky choice.
Rassie van der Dussen
At 32 years old, Rassie van der Dussen ought to be more experienced at the international level. Yet, he is only one series old in the format but could well be in line for a huge promotion on the job front.
Van der Dussen has played just four Test matches and moving him up to captain the side could be a big risk. But Graeme Smith himself took over without much captaincy and international experience and it turned out to be a brilliant decision for Proteas cricket.
Smith hinted at being open to taking a calculated risk on the captaincy matter in Test cricket and van der Dussen could fit the bill perfectly. His age isn't ideal but then again, with few options before them, the Proteas might be willing to compromise on that front.
Once hurried into the leadership role in limited-overs cricket, Aiden Markram struggled and lost form. His Test exploits have been brilliant so far and his talent is there for everyone to see. But he remains a home player primarily and his record against spinners and in Asia makes him really vulnerable to take on additional captaincy duties.
Markram perhaps needs to focus on his batting to truly realise his potential. South Africa need Markram to be their big batter across all formats in the next decade and burdening him with captaincy now could turn out to be a double-edged sword. They might ponder taking the plunge but it sure comes with dire consequences.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Christiaan Kotze