A history of Proteas ODI captaincy debuts

A history of Proteas ODI captaincy debuts

Quinton de Kock (captain) of South Africa celebrates after scoring a century during the 1st ODI match between South Africa and England at Newlands Cricket Stadium on February 04, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Quinton de Kock’s ODI captaincy debut against England was probably the most successful in Proteas history to date. But various others also made their mark.

On Tuesday, Quinton de Kock wrote himself into South African cricketing folklore with arguably the best ODI captaincy debut ever by a Protea player. But the national team has a fairly rich history of men making their respective marks with the captain’s armband on. We look back at how previous full-time stewardship started. (Excluded are stand-in gigs)   CLIVE RICE The hastily arranged friendship tour to India did little favours for Rice, South Africa’s first post-isolation ODI skipper. Having reached the back-end of a superb career, he only made 14 and bowled five overs for 14 runs. KEPLER WESSELS

Kepler Wessels. (Photo By Matt Homes/Getty Images)


The dogged and determined left-hander’s stint as Proteas skipper began against the backdrop of Clive Rice controversially being omitted from the 1992 World Cup squad.

But, typically, he took it in his stride.

Wessels stroked his way to an unbeaten 81 in an surprise opening win against red-hot favourites Australia.

It was rather ironic that he would do so against the Baggy Greens – he made 162 on Test debut for the Aussies after qualifying for the country during SA’s isolation from international sport.


Hansie Cronje. Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport UK

The Proteas had been struggling for positive results under new coach Bob Woolmer, notably losing all six of their games in a triangular series in Pakistan, where Cronje – as just a batsman – ended as the leading run-scorer.

Wessels retired from internationals after that depressing trip, with his young lieutenant commencing his rein in a quadrangular series at home.

South Africa managed to get that campaign off to a good start with a 69-run win over New Zealand at Newlands on a difficult surface.

Cronje did his part, top-scoring with a slow but valuable 38 off 64 and bowling five overs, taking the key wicket of Kiwi talisman Martin Crowe.


Shaun Pollock. Photo: Gallo Images.

South African cricket had been thrown into turmoil close to the start of a short ODI series against the Australians as Cronje admitted to regular dealings with bookmakers.

As a result, Pollock was hastily installed into the role.

His captaincy debut was successful – the Proteas won by six wickets – yet unspectacular.

He bowled three maidens in a miserly 10-over spell of 1/43 and didn’t bat.


Graeme Smith. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Getty Images)

One of the Proteas’ most decorated captains had a very poor start to his tenure.

Following South Africa’s early exit in the 2003 World Cup – in their own backyard – the selectors decided to controversially hand the role to a 22-year-old rookie.

Reservations over the move grew immediately when Smith’s first match went haywire.

India galloped to 307/4 as his bowling attack proved toothless, before the Proteas were shot out for 154, Smith making one.

Thankfully is was all uphill from there…


AB de Villiers.
Photo by Shaun Roy / Gallo Images

Appointed in mid-2011, it took De Villiers another six months to take over the reins through a combination of injury and the Proteas’ schedule.

The wait was worth it.

On a sweltering hot day in Paarl, the middle-order dynamo smashed 52 off just 40 deliveries, guiding the Proteas to over 300.

Then his rampant pace attack demolished the Sri Lankans, bowling them out for 43.


Faf du Plessis celebrates with David Miller. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

Du Plessis had done a magnificent job deputising for the injured De Villiers for almost six months, before finally being handed the full-time role in August 2017.

By that time, his worth as captain was already not in doubt anymore.

He did very little on his official debut, as Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla chased down a Bangladeshi target of 279 with an unbeaten opening stand of 282 in Kimberley.


Quinton de Kock. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

In mid-2018, the gifted wicketkeeper-batsman was surprisingly asked to fill in for an injured Du Plessis in the latter stages of the ODI series against Sri Lanka.

Scores of 23 and 54 certainly suggested to a liking for the role.

On Tuesday, it proved to be no fluke as De Kock hammered a magnificent 113-ball 107 on his full-time debut against England at Newlands.

Not only was his innings a masterclass, his overall tactics – shrewd bowling changes and a ballsy call to bowl first – were promising.

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