Idea of single-format contracts being floated, door still open for Faf du Plessi

A comeback to international cricket is on cards for South African batter Faf Du Plessis, who continues to hold conversations about his return to the side with new white-ball coach Rob Walter.

As per ESPNCricinfo, Walter and Du Plessis discussed the possibility of the former skipper`s return, but it has been made difficult due to scheduling and contract challenges. With Cricket South Africa (CSA) set to announce new central contracts later in March and idea of single-format contracts being floated, Plessis could make his way back into the side, especially with ICC T20 World Cup set to take place next year.

“We have always been open to talks with our freelance players and Rob is very much interested in resuming those conversations,” Enoch Nkwe, CSA`s Director of Cricket said as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

“In terms of contracting, us and SACA (the South African Cricketers` Association) are engaging in that aspect to ensure that we remain proactive, because the reality is that a lot is evolving in our cricketing landscape.”

“We have got to try our utmost best to be on the front foot. A lot of players are still committed to all three formats but we have some players who are only white ball and some only red ball. What we foresee in the near future, maybe even the next 12 months, is that we might even go more specifically to T20, ODI and Test contracts. Those are some of the things that we are actually looking at,” added Nkwe.

Also read: MS Dhoni is the best guy to learn from: Faf du Plessis

Du Plessis brought the curtains down on his Test career in February 2021, but kept himself available for selection in both white-ball formats. He was however, not picked up in any bilateral series and even major ICC tournaments like T20 World Cup 2021 and 2022.

Since his final Test, he has played Pakistan Super League (PSL), Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), IPL, Big Bash League (BBL), Caribbean Premier League and SA20. He has scored 2,747 runs in 90 innings in such leagues at an average of 33.91. He has also hit four of his five T20I tons across these leagues.

Nkwe also confirmed that the batter was in talks with CSA to make comeback for both T20 World Cups, but the selection panel consisting of Victor Mpitsang and Patrick Moroney could not reach an agreement with Du Plessis.

“There were conversations before the World Cup with the selection panel and the coach and they concluded (without a solution). From a CSA point of view, we are happy to engage and see how we can find the best way forward,” said Nkwe.

Both selectors were sacked at the end of head coach Mark Boucher`s tenure with South Africa. Selection is now the responsibility of respective head coaches. This gives Walter a better say than Boucher to engage or to not engage with freelancers. It does not however, solve issues of fixtures and money, which prevented AB de Villiers from returning to play in the 2019 50-over World Cup.

After his retirement in 2018, De Villiers had put up a last-minute to SA`s then all-format skipper Du Plessis, to play in the 2019 World Cup, but his request was denied as he had not featured in any of the matches leading up to the tournament, after CSA had asked him to take part in at least two out of 10 ODI series before the marquee event.

De Villiers declined due to scheduling and financial reasons, something CSA is yet to resolve. While they would ordinarily give a non-contracted player a match fee for playing in any games, they now also need to consider compensation if these games coincide with a league, a situation where the player is able to earn more.

Short-term deals, which Nkwe indicated are being discussed, would likely make allowances for that gap, pay a player enough to choose their national colours. 

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