The decision on South Africa's next Test captain should not be a straightforward or simple one, according to Cricket SA CEO Haroon Lorgat and team manager Mohammed Moosajee. Although the position is expected to be offered to one of AB de Villiers or Faf du Plessis, Lorgat and Moosajee hope other possibilities will be considered in debates over the next two weeks.
"I would hope the selectors will not have an automatic choice. There is a process that needs to be followed," Lorgat, speaking at the Gauteng Cricket Board Awards on Thursday night, said. "There are several candidates so let's hope it is a tough choice."
South Africa's selection panel have already begun talks and will meet again before CSA's board meeting on June 3 to decide on their recommendation for the next Test captain. The person they choose will have to be ratified by the board before being officially announced. Apart from de Villiers and du Plessis, JP Duminy is has been mentioned as a possible choice, especially in light of his recent form, bigger role in the national team and years in the game.
Duminy has been playing regularly in the Test team since March 2012 with his only absence enforced when he tore his Achilles' tendon in November that year in Australia. He was handed his place back as soon as he returned to full fitness. He has established his place in the middle-order where he plays a pivot role between the specialist batsmen and the lower order, shepherding the tail. He has also been given a job to do with the ball and his offspin has allowed South Africa the option of another bowler.
As one of the more senior members of the side, Duminy is considered to be part of the core group that will lead the rebuilding phase following the twin retirements of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis last summer. That Duminy plays across all three formats makes him one of the constants in the South Africa XI. National coach Russell Domingo has often referred to Duminy as South Africa's "best T20 player," and he is currently the South African with the most runs in the IPL, and fifth on the overall standings.
What may work against Duminy is that he has not captained previously but South Africa's administrators have shown that is not insurmountable hurdle. Smith only played eight Tests before being made national captain at age of 22 while de Villiers had not led at any level when he succeeded Smith as ODI and T20 skipper. What is more important, according to Moosajee, is that the person entrusted with the job is able to continue to apply the team culture South Africa have built over the last few years.
"We are a diverse country with a diverse group of players and we have a melting pot of cultures in the dressing room. We have built our team environment around that, which has meant learning and respecting each other's backgrounds and using that to become a strong unit," Moosajee said. "We are fortunate that we've had inspirational leaders in the past and now we hope to have another one. We have four or five people that can fill the role."
Both Lorgat and Moosajee cautioned against looking for another Smith, who led the team for nine years and played in it for over a decade. "Graeme was one of a kind - he was tough and he wore his heart on his sleeve," Moosajee said. For Lorgat, Smith's lengthy tenure has left South Africa with "a lot to build on but big shoes to fill."