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'Had a lot of off-field issues,' Faf du Plessis steps down as South Africa captain

Had a lot of off-field issues, Faf du Plessis steps down as South Africa captain
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Faf du Plessis on Monday announced that he has stepped down as South Africa’s captain effective immediately.

Faf du Plessis on Monday announced that he has stepped down as South Africa's captain effective immediately.

The 35-year-old has stated that he chose to step back to help facilitate the transition of the team under the leadership of next-generation skipper, Quinton de Kock. The wicketkeeper-batsman was earlier picked to lead South Africa against England in the ODIs.

With the calendar year packed out with various tournaments – home and away – including the T20 World Cup, which will be played in October and November in Australia, du Plessis wants to contribute with as a batsman and a senior player, who can offer his valuable guidance to the new leadership group in the South African dressing room.

Du Plessis, who led the Proteas for the very first time in December 2012 during a series against New Zealand, has captained South Africa in a total of 115 international matches across all three formats. He averages 43.02 with the bat as a captain, while his average is 42.74 as just a player. As a captain, du Plessis has scored 5,163 runs across all the formats including 11 centuries and an unbeaten 135 being his highest score.

"The last few weeks of rest away from the game have given me a lot of perspective on the great privilege and honour I have had in representing and leading my country in the three formats of this wonderful game. It has been a rewarding, sometimes tough and other times a lonely road, but I would not replace the experience for anything, because it has made me the man that I am proud to be today.

When I took over the leadership, I did so with the commitment to lead, perform and most importantly, to serve. As the team heads into a new direction with new leaders and a young crop of players, I feel it will be in the best interests of South African cricket to relinquish the captaincy in all formats. This was one of the toughest decisions to make, but I remain fully committed to supporting Quinton, Mark and my teammates as we continue to rebuild and re-align as a group," du Plessis wrote in a statement.

"After the 2019 ICC World Cup, I made the decision to continue in my role as captain while the team went through a rebuilding phase following the retirement of some key senior players and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff that we had worked with until then. It was important to me that I stayed to help the team find its feet and plot a new way forward while assisting in identifying the next generation of leaders within the players' group during a time of turbulence in SA cricket. The last season of my captaincy has been the most challenging to date as I had a lot of off-field issues that I devoted my energy towards.

I have strived to lead the team with dignity and authenticity during exhilarating highs and devastating lows. I have given my everything during my tenure. I have never been one to throw in the towel and do believe I am putting the team first and believe we have to stick through the tough times to get to the good times. In a perfect world I would have loved to lead the team in the Tests for the rest of the season as well as the T20 World Cup, but sometimes the most important attribute of a leader is to be selfless. I am healthy, fit, energised and motivated and certainly see myself playing an important role in the squad for as long as I continue putting in winning performances for the team," he further added.

Before signing off, the 35-year-old thanked his family, teammates, coaching staff and a few others for his successful journey over the years.

"South African cricket has entered a new era. New leadership, new faces, new challenges and new strategies. I remain committed to playing in all three formats of the game for now as a player and will offer my knowledge and time to the new leaders of the team.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported me in my captaincy throughout the years – my wife and daughter, family, teammates, Proteas coaching staff, management and selectors, CSA Board and staff, friends and fans of South African cricket. It has been the greatest honour of my life to lead my country," du Plessis, now South Africa's former skipper, signed off.

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