Faf du Plessis, the South Africa Test captain, sees his role in identifying the players who will form the core of the team in the future, even as South Africa struggle to emerge from a period of transition.
South Africa were handed their second successive Test series loss in India, being swept 3-0 this week to go with their 3-0 defeat in the four-match affair in 2015. They were crushed by an innings and 202 runs in the final Test in Ranchi, their second consecutive innings loss after managing only 275 and 189 in response to India's 601/5 declared in the previous Test in Pune.
In the absence of stalwarts who retired in recent years – Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel – du Plessis is left with an inexperienced, young team. But he knows his job will be to help make the rebuilding a smoother process.
"If you see, it's a very, very young team," du Plessis said after the final Test on Tuesday, 22 October. "How I see my journey unfold with this team? I think I can help with the transitioning period. Before that wasn't the case. Graeme Smith was a very successful captain. After that, it was like what's going to happen. I hope to make that process more smoother.
"Identifying the next leaders. Identifying the next captain. For the time being, it's about the process. It's a very young team and a very young leadership group."
The 35-year-old realises the process will take time. "It's tough. We are used to playing a lot of experienced players in Test cricket. Players who have played up of 30-40 Tests. And now you look at it and it's 5, 6, 7 or 10 Tests. It does feel like a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to try and build the team.
"It's just the place I am in right now. It's unfortunate but someone has to do it and that falls on my shoulder."
After sweeping the #INDvSA series, India further consolidate their No.1 position in the ICC World Test Championship table, with 240 points.— ICC (@ICC) October 22, 2019
Full table 👉 https://t.co/xsau9k6Mbu pic.twitter.com/2DqvdjsF3g
Du Plessis said the focus would be on identifying individuals who can potentially be long-term replacements for the yesteryear legends. "When you go through real tough times like this, you identify characters who will drive the team forward. You look for personalities that you see in the team in the next five-six years' time. It's a tough place to start right in the beginning.
"The position we find ourselves is that we have a lot of experience out of the Test team. That process will take a bit longer. Right now it's about finding personalities."
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