The cricket world is paying tribute to Faf du Plessis after the South Africa star announced his retirement from Test cricket on Wednesday.
The former Test captain announced his retirement from the longer form of the game in order to focus on T20 internationals, with successive World Cups in the next two years to come.
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The 36-year-old was the most senior member of the South African Test squad that lost the recent series 2-0 in Pakistan.
He finishes with an average of 40.02 after 69 matches, with 4163 runs, 10 centuries and 21 fifties.
"My heart is clear and the time is right to walk into a new chapter," Du Plessis said in a statement on Wednesday.
"It has been an honour to play for my country in all the formats of the game, but the time has come for me to retire from Test cricket.
"The next two years are T20 World Cup years. Because of this, my focus is shifting to this format and I want to play as much of it as possible around the world so that I can be the best player I can possibly be.
"This does not mean that ODI is no longer in my plans. I am just making T20 cricket the priority in the short term."
Du Plessis made his Test debut against Australia in Adelaide in 2012, scoring 78 and a memorable 110 in the second innings, in which he faced 376 deliveries on a wearing wicket to help South Africa secure a draw in a series they won 1-0.
He remains the only South African to score a half-century and century on Test debut.
Cricket world pays tribute to Faf du Plessis
Du Plessis captained the side in 36 Tests but gave up the armband in February 2020 after a string of poor results.
He succeeded AB de Villiers as Test captain in 2016, initially on a temporary basis, and enjoyed significant early success, leading South Africa to victory in seven of his first eight series in charge, including away and home series against Australia.
With a team weakened by retirements and natural attrition, the latter stages of his captaincy were less successful as South Africa lost away and at home against Sri Lanka and were well beaten in a home series against England.
Despite stating his determination to be part of the next two Twenty20 World Cups, in India this year and Australia next year, Du Plessis will not be playing in a domestic Twenty20 tournament starting on Friday.
Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith led the tributes to Du Plessis.
“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," Smith said.
“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.”
As a test captain and batsman, Faf Du Plessis had to fight through:
🔹 World class teammates retiring in bundles
🔹 Board and other uncertainties
🔹 Injuries to key players
Yet he still managed to defeat:
Aus home & away
NZ home & away
Ind at home
Pak at home
SL at home pic.twitter.com/5SB6OXW63J
— Varun Desai (@LWOSVarun) February 17, 2021
So sad to see Faf du Plessis go, but he has had a good run! https://t.co/mrYwxBcI4F
— Briefly - South African News (@brieflyza) February 17, 2021
🚨 FAF DU PLESSIS TO RETIRE FROM TEST CRICKET 🏏
The former captain played 69 tests, scoring 4,163 runs with an average of 40.
I’ve always been a fan; he’s a gutsy cricketer who had some great highlights as Captain and a batter. Sad to see him retire - wishing him the best 🙏 pic.twitter.com/c9ivMKsCIM
— The Slog Sweeper (@the_slogsweeper) February 17, 2021
Faf du Plessis, CONGRATULATIONS on an amazing Test Career. Thank you for everything you've done for South African Cricket 🏏. It's a very sad day to see you go, but you definitely deserve it.
All the best of luck with your future endeavors and remaining white ball career ❤🏏 pic.twitter.com/tn8bE448BD
— RetireWithKobus (@JvrensburgKobus) February 17, 2021
Sad day for test cricket, Faf Du plessis announces his retirement from test cricket will continue in white ball cricket. RSA will most miss and cricket too🙏🏏🌟 @faf1307 #FafduPlessis #DuPlessis A big fan from Chennai, India pic.twitter.com/ZVFroCKZNW
— Bharathwajan (@Bharathwajan3) February 17, 2021