It doesn’t often happen that a player willingly retires before the age of 35. There are a few exceptions, including former captain Graeme Smith, who retired at 33 in 2014, and most recently Quinton de Kock from ODI cricket at 30.
Smith retired for his own reasons. However, De Kock’s reasons might be the first by a Proteas player for walking away from an international career.
The options that players have because of the flourishing T20 franchise space are plenty, and more players are starting to embrace going the T20 franchise route to ensure that they are financially secure once they retire.
The current Proteas ODI squad has David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen at 34 years of age, and despite the fact that some international players, including India captain Rohit Sharma, stay on in the international space well beyond 35, one can only wonder if this group will still be around come 2027 when South Africa hosts its second ODI Cricket World Cup.
Cricket landscape has changed
“I think the way the (cricket) landscape has changed in the last five years, it’s a bit too early to commit,” Van der Dussen told IOL Sport.
“Myself and David Miller are 34 and obviously Quinton has retired now. A lot can happen in four years’ time.
“I think this current core of the ODI side will probably look to go to the Champions Trophy in 2025, which is about a year and a half to go, and then probably assess from there in terms of how it looks, what the state of the younger guys coming through is, and what’s the depth looking like.
“We’ve established the brand that we want to play. We’ve done that over the last 12 to 18 months and it will be about looking at the personnel that can take that brand forward because it’s one thing having a blueprint, but you need the personnel to be able to execute that.”
There’s still a lot to be discussed by the coaching staff as to how they’ll use the upcoming white-ball series against India, which starts on December 10.
Will Rob Walter use it to give the younger players on the fringes a chance to stake a claim, after he gave them a run in August when South Africa hosted Australia in a three-match T20I series in Durban?
Especially since this white-ball series takes place only a couple of weeks after the Proteas’ return from India and the World Cup. If the core group of players features in the whiteball series, be it the T20I or ODI series, what will be the bigger picture behind the reason to play them after what was a strenuous tournament in India?
“You need to look at what are you building up to and, in that sense, it’s ODIs right after the ODI World Cup so there can be a sense of – where does it fit in,” said Van der Dussen.
“We’ll have to see with the management if they are inclined to give younger players some opportunities and really see what the depth is looking like or if they are looking to stick with the same core and start building up to the Champions Trophy in 2025.”
South Africa may give the senior players time to rest for the Test series that starts on Boxing Day.