South Africa stalwart Faf du Plessis announced his retirement from Test cricket on Wednesday, February 17. The former Proteas captain will, however, continue to be available for national selection in limited-overs cricket with T20 being his priority now.

The 36-year-old thus ended a nine-year Test career that started in November 2012. Du Plessis had made his Test debut on November 22, 2012, against Australia in Adelaide. 

The right-handed batsman amassed 4,163 runs in 69 Tests at an average of 40.02 with 21 fifties and 10 tons. He also captained South Africa in 36 Tests after taking over from his childhood best friend AB de Villiers in 2016. Under his captaincy, the Proteas recorded 18 wins, 15 losses and three draws. 

"It has been an honour to play for my country in all the formats of the game, but the time has come for me to retire from Test cricket. If someone had told me 15 years ago, that I would play 69 Test matches for South Africa and captained the side, I wouldn't have believed them. I stand in a place of utmost gratitude for a Test career full of blessings bestowed on me," the 36-year-old wrote in a statement that he posted on his Instagram handle. 

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Du Plessis further stated that his focus now shifts to T20 cricket but ODIs will also remain a part of his plans.

"The next two years are the ICC T20 World Cup years. Because of this, my focus is shifting to this format and I want to play as much of it as possible around the world so I can be the best player I can possibly be. I strongly believe that I have a lot to offer to the Proteas in this format," he added. 

"This does not mean that ODI cricket is longer in the plans. I'm just making T20 cricket the priority in the short term," he said. 

"I will be in conversation with CSA over the next couple of months on what the future might look like for me over the next year to find a solution that works for both of us," he further said in his statement. 

"For now, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who had an influence on my Test career. I would like to single out my wife and family in particular -- I would not have been able to do without their support during the unforgettable journey that Test cricket has taken me on. 

"To my coaches, teammates and support staff over the years, I would also like to give a note of thanks of course, to Cricket South Africa for the opportunity to be able to represent and leady my country in the pinnacle of the game we all love. It has been an incredible journey, with many stories that I look forward to one day sharing," he concluded. 

Meanwhile, several former cricketers, experts and fans congratulated du Plessis on his stellar Test career.

Feature image courtesy: Christiaan Kotze / AFP