Though they have a year to plan for the tournament, they have less than two months to think about their first post-de Villiers tour. This will mark the start of the preparatory phase for the World Cup and a rebuilding process in the longer format. South Africa visit Sri Lanka for two Tests, five ODIs and a T20 in July and August.
The Test side is familiar with playing without de Villiers' - he did not play a single red-ball international between January 2016 and December 2017 in which time South Africa played 17 Tests including nine away from home - but they will now have to look for a permanent answer to his absence. And the limited-overs' teams, particularly the ODI side, will need a swift solution and a few match-winners as they build towards the World Cup.
Here are the options that may come into the discussion when the selection panel meets in the coming weeks.
Temba Bavuma: The diminutive middle-order batsman was the person who had to make way for de Villiers in December 2017. Although Bavuma had made useful contributions on South Africa's tours of England and New Zealand in 2017 and Australia in 2016, his conversation rate of fifties to centuries was a concern. Bavuma's progress was further stalled when he suffered a broken hand at the beginning of this year but he made a comeback during South Africa's March Tests against Australia, when they opted for seven batsmen in the line-up instead of six, and his unbeaten 95 at the Wanderers all but cemented his place. De Villiers' retirement provides Bavuma with a long leash and he is likely to feature in the starting XI for a significant period, provided he can make his opportunities count. He will need to focus on faster run-scoring, but his place in the side should be secure for the forseeable future.
Theunis de Bruyn: A prodigious talent, de Bruyn has only played five Tests since making his debut more than a year ago, and without much success. He was dropped from the XI after failing to cross 40 in the first two Tests against Australia and there was some speculation a Kolpak deal may have been on his radar but now that should change. Though de Bruyn will have to compete for a place in the team if South Africa opt for six batsmen, if they play seven, he will likely be the extra batsmen. De Bruyn needs to start translating his domestic success on the international stage but de Villiers' retirement may have opened the door for him to do that.
Heinrich Klaasen: With a first-class average of 45.28, it is not difficult to see how Klaasen was named in the Test squad to play Australia in March. And it was also not his first foray into the national set-up. Klaasen traveled as a reserve wicket-keeper to New Zealand a year before, in March 2017, but he is still waiting for his first Test cap. Klaasen is an aggressive batsman, who takes the game on, a quality South Africa will want in a successor to de Villiers. It won't hurt his cause that he also keeps wicket and can be both a back-up and a challenger to Quinton de Kock.
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In ODIs, and for the World Cup
Aiden Markram: After being elevated to the one-day captaincy with just two caps to his name for the high-profile series against India in February, the signs that Aiden Markram will feature in the World Cup squad were there. But, when South Africa lost four matches under Markram to crash to a 1-5 series defeat and his own form suffered, doubts began surfacing. Now, it would seem South Africa don't have a choice but to take Markram to the World Cup. He may not be able to open the batting, but he could be just as destructive lower down the order. Remember, Markram holds the South African List A record for the highest individual score - an unbeaten 183 off 138 balls - and has a penchant for playing big shots.
Farhaan Behardien: The nearly-man of the ODI set-up could be the biggest beneficiary of de Villiers' retirement, if it means he is given a consistent run in the team. Behardien has had to battle for a place which has left him unable to pull off the heroics he has become known for at domestic level, so much so that there was an outcry when he was initially left out of the squad to play India in February. Behardien was the fourth-highest run-scorer in the domestic 50-over competition and is thought to be reaching the twilight of his career. The World Cup could be his big chance to go out on a high.
Heinrich Klaasen: Klaasen again comes into the picture, especially after his impressive knocks in the limited-overs matches against India earlier in the summer. His 69 off 30 balls in the second T20, which helped South Africa win the match, went some way to earning him an IPL deal with Rajasthan Royals, as a replacement for Australian captain Steven Smith, but he also has strong domestic form on his side. Klaasen was third-highest on the one-day cup run-charts, where he averaged 52.20, with five fifties. Again, his glovework will be an added bonus and could push him ahead of the queue for the World Cup final XV.
Other outside contenders: Temba Bavuma has played two ODIs for South Africa, with decent results, albeit not against top-tier opposition. Bavuma scored a century on debut against Ireland and 48 against Bangladesh, but both times he was opening the batting. He is believed to be seeking out more opportunities at the top of the order in domestic white-ball cricket but for as long as Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram are in the mix, he may have to find ways of scoring quickly lower down if he hopes to make the World Cup squad.
Reeza Hendricks is only capped at the T20I level for South Africa and has a top-score of 70 in a match against India. He topped the domestic T20 run-charts with 361 runs from eight matches, including a century, and may come into the picture for World Cup preparation.