Graeme Smith pays tribute to Faf du Plessis: 'Losing him will leave a big gap'

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Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis
  • Star Proteas batsman Faf du Plessis announced his retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect.
  • Du Plessis stepped down from red-ball cricket but will remain available for the Proteas in the limited-overs formats.
  • Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith paid tribute to Du Plessis, stating he will leave "another big gap in the team".

Former Proteas captain Faf du Plessis announced his retirement from Test cricket on Wednesday, bringing a close an illustrious red-ball career, which spanned over eight years.

Making his Test debut in 2012 at Adelaide, Du Plessis scored 78 and 110 not out against Australia, becoming and remaining the only South African to have scored a half-century and century on Test debut.

His match-saving 110* in the fourth innings of that match also remains the longest a South African has batted in the fourth innings of a Test match - 466 minutes.

READ | COMMENT: Skimpy Test roster will have helped trigger Faf's stepdown

Du Plessis played 69 Tests for his country, scoring 4 163 runs - including 10 centuries and 21 half-centuries - at an average of 40.02.

The 36-year-old ends his Test career as South Africa's third-longest serving Test captain (behind Graeme Smith and Hansie Cronje) and led the Proteas in 36 Tests before stepping down last year.

Smith, former Proteas captain and now Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket, paid tribute to his former team-mate.

"Faf has been a prolific Test cricketer for the Proteas for a number of years now and to lose him in this format is going to leave another big gap in the team," said Smith.

"His commitment to the team has always been undoubtable and his transparency with Cricket South Africa about his plans has always been appreciated and we respect his decision, knowing he would not have come by it easily.

"I would like to thank Faf on behalf of CSA for his years of service and dedication to the Proteas' Test team and we look forward to engaging further with him on how he can continue contributing to the team in a meaningful way," Smith concluded.

CSA acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki admitted that while they're sad to see Du Plessis step down from Test cricket, his skill and experience will be valuable for the South African cricket system.

"Faf is a shining testimony of what one can achieve if they commit to it. His patriotism to cricket, impeccable leadership qualities, coupled with his insatiable commitment to imparting knowledge to budding cricketers speaks volumes of the rich legacy that he leaves behind," said Moseki.

"[As] much as CSA is saddened to see him retire from the longest format of the game, we are however comforted by the fact that he will still be part of our system, where his immense contribution awaits.

"CSA would like to thank Faf for dedicating the better part of his life to cricket and making South Africa proud on and off the field. He has certainly earned himself a special place in our hearts and a favourable chapter in the ledgers of history."

Du Plessis will, however, remain available for the Proteas in the limited-overs formats and is available for this year's T20 World Cup in India.

He will not be competing in CSA's T20 Challenge, which gets underway in Durban on Friday.

Du Plessis will be aiming to feature in the Proteas' upcoming home ODI and T20 series against Pakistan next month.

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