Six of the best: Candidates to succeed skipper Smith

Who should succeed the retiring Graeme Smith as South Africa's Test captain?

Who should succeed the retiring Graeme Smith as South Africa's Test captain?

The man for the big occasion, <b>Faf du Plessis'</b> remarkably responsible approach has been consistently characterised since a sterling debut three years ago – namely by veritable Tour de Force innings against Australia in Adelaide in November 2012 and versus India in Johannesburg in December 2013. Thrust to the fore of the T20I team, as the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh looms large, perhaps this is the ideal time to push him to the helm of the Test side too.

The debate is well documented, with the jury still out on whether or not <b>wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers</b> will be able to handle a pressurised three-fold role as skipper, gloveman and middle-order backbone. Typically modest, de Villiers will insist all and sundry is within his capability, but a questionable limited-overs record – in the tri-fector capacity – convince otherwise.

<b>Specialist batsman de Villiers</b>, however, seems the most primed to succeed Smith. The decision, too, would facilitate the permanent arrival of the promising Quinton de Kock to the Test fold. Indeed, de Villiers' Test record as a wicketkeeper-batsman is outstanding, and removing the tiring responsibility behind the stumps should improve an already superb string of statistics.

<b>Dean Elgar</b> captained the South African Under-19 team at the 2006 World Cup and, although his record was not as impressive as fellow representative-level skippers Wayne Parnell and Aiden Markram, leadership traits remain inherent. Smith's exit, meanwhile, has all but guaranteed the blossoming spinning all-rounder a berth in the first-choice XI for the foreseeable future.

Australia gave George Bailey the T20I captaincy before he had earned a solitary international cap, and maybe <b>Justin Ontong</b> could follow a similar path. Ontong has not played Test match cricket since 2004, but is currently at the fore of a very dominant Cobras franchise. Ontong's seasonal batting form is solid, too, and his right-arm off spin would be a handy asset for a team increasingly eager to move on from Robin Peterson.

<b>Hashim Amla</b>, in the past, didn't want the captaincy or vice-captaincy – and his sentiments probably remain the same. Without the arguably overbearing Smith around, though, perhaps there is room for negotiation.