Faf du Plessis claims breakdown in relationship with coach Boucher led him into Test retirement

The former South Africa skipper opened the lid of how dwindling relationship with the coach pushed him into Test match retirement. 
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Faf du Plessis wrote in his autobiography that he wanted to commit to T20Is after quitting Tests but Boucher and Smith ghosted on him. 

Faf du Plessis has made a controversial allegation, stating that South Africa's head coach Mark Boucher and a breakdown in his relationship with Proteas' former wicketkeeper-batter was indirectly responsible for his premature Test retirement. 

Writing in his autobiography Faf: Through Fire, Du Plessis wrote that Boucher, CSA's former director of cricket Graeme Smith and convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang all kept mum when he communicated to them his available for T20Is after opting to bid adieu from the Tests after February 2021. 

In his book, the former South African skipper spilled the beans on a variety of issues, with the claim on Boucher spotting the eye the most. One of the chapters the book contains is titled 'The Ghosts of Insecurity', in which Du Plessis has talked about his final phase with the Proteas. 

The player narrated how found Boucher's first series with the national team - at home versus England back in late 2019 - different to the previous ones he had been part, as he did not feel backed by the coach amidst media scrutiny. 

"I needed someone to back me up in the media, and Graeme and Mark were best positioned to clear the air and show public support for their national captain who was dealing with head- and tailwinds simultaneously. When Mark attended a press conference while this storm was raging, he didn't do that," Du Plessis writes. 

Du Plessis opens lid on Test retirement, claims Boucher's role 

It was later in the series that the relationship took a real downward curve, never to be redeemed, when Boucher asked Faf du Plessis about his future with the national side. As revealed in the book, Du Plessis said he told Boucher he is committed to all three forms of the game. He, however, decided at the time to take a break from the ODIs and with the 2023 World Cup still more three years away, also opted to quit the 50-over captaincy. 

Boucher, though, also asked Du Plessis to give up the T20I captaincy, about which the latter "not convinced that relinquishing the T20 captaincy was the right decision". At the time, Du Plessis felt Boucher's remark was only a "suggestion" and he need not act upon it, but he could sense the two not warming up to each other's presence in the dressing room. He felt their relationship was "cold and distant". 

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Later on, Du Plessis said he was made to realise that Boucher wanted Quinton de Kock to take over the captaincy for both the white-ball formats, which is what eventually happened. Du Plessis claimed he finished the series with England "losing that connection with my purpose as a leader in the team".

This urged the player to also quit the Test captaincy since he didn't want someone at the helm of affairs to have a conflicted relationship with the coach of the side. Du Plessis thus resigned from leadership but stayed on board as a player, feeling he is "leading without a title", the header of another eye-opening chapter in the book. 

Faf du Plessis said during this phase of his career, his relationship with Boucher was "purely transactional" and limited to his coaching expertise, something that benefitted his batting in a home series against Sri Lanka before he struggled in Pakistan. It was during that trip to Karachi that Du Plessis realised "my desire and joy to play Tests for South Africa weren't what they used to be".

Upon return from Pakistan, Du Plessis said he informed Smith of his decision of quitting Test matches and asked him and Boucher to give him time for a healthy discussion as he was still up and ready to go for T20Is with successive T20 World Cups looming.

But the two greats, Du Plessis claims, never responded to his communication, leading him to quietly move out of the scene and end what was once a great association between him and the Proteas.