Faf to temporarily lead the Proteas in Twenty20s
FAF du Plessis's temporary elevation to South Africa's Twenty20 captaincy, opportunities for Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Henry Davids and Aaron Phangiso, and a slap in the face for Thami Tsolekile punctuated the announcement at Newlands yesterday of the Proteas squads to play New Zealand in the T20 and Test series this summer.
Du Plessis's promotion is as much deserved as it is a neat way to lighten the workload on AB de Villiers, who keeps wicket in all three formats and captains the one-day and T20 sides.
"We would like to rotate AB and give him a rest, but having him captain and resting him makes it awkward," selection convener Andrew Hudson said.
Du Plessis knows how to take his chances, as we saw when he stepped into the breach created by JP Duminy's injury in the Test series in Australia.
Morris, Davids and Phangiso, too, have earned the nod. Morris and Phangiso make things happen with the ball, and Davids has been the most attacking batsman on the domestic one-day scene this season. But the selectors' decision to hand the gloves to De Kock, who turns 20 on Monday, makes no sense.
"The wicketkeeper is something we have debated long and hard about," Hudson said. "We need to find a keeper for the future and one of the options is looking at a guy like Quinton de Kock.
"It will be nice to see him play and to see him step up in the international arena.
"It's very much a work in progress and the message to other keepers is not that we have passed them by - it's still very open in terms of a longer-term wicketkeeping solution."
Tell that to Tsolekile, who was called up to the winter tour of England when Mark Boucher was injured but was then ignored in favour of De Villiers; who quite rightly keeps ahead of De Kock for the Lions; and who is acknowledged as the best gloveman in the country.
Tell it, too, to Dane Vilas and Heino Kuhn, who are more experienced and downright better wicketkeepers than De Kock at this embryonic stage of his career.
De Kock has nuclear potential as a batsman, but right now he fails to launch more often than he succeeds. In the Champions League T20 in October, he was fourth on the Lions' list of run-scorers, fifth in the averages and sixth in terms of strike rate.
Proof of the abandonment of the pretence that Tsolekile is part of the plan came with his omission from the Test squad. The only other casualty from the side that returned from Australia last week is Imran Tahir.
Faf du Plessis (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn.