ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 23: Faf du Plessis of South Africa speaks during a press conference before a South Africa training session at Adelaide Oval on November 23, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Faf du Plessis has retired from international cricket, but could be set for a shock return as South Africa consider becoming the first nation to move to a revolutionary new contract structure.

While all cricket nations around the world with a proper professional system have a contracted player group to cover all three formats, the African nation are reportedly considering moving to a structure where players will be contracted to play a single format for the national teams.

It's understood confirmation on the new contract structure will be announced later this month.

Du Plessis has become a T20 gun for hire since ending his international career at the end of 2021 in the longest format of the game, is still one of the best batsmen available in the shortest form.

He last played a T20 international for the Proteas in December of 2020 against England, but is in discussions with coach Rob Walter about making a return with the T20 World Cup next year, to be hosted in the United States of America and West Indies, in mind.

"We have always been open to talks with our freelance players and Rob is very much interested in resuming those conversations," Enoch Nkwe, CSA's Director of Cricket told Cricinfo.

"In terms of contracting, us and SACA (the South African Cricketers' Association) are engaging in that aspect to ensure that we remain proactive, because the reality is that a lot is evolving in our cricketing landscape.

"We've got to try our utmost best to be on the front foot. A lot of players are still committed to all three formats but we have some players who are only white ball and some only red ball.

"What we foresee in the near future, maybe even the next 12 months, is that we might even go more specifically to T20, ODI and Test contracts. Those are some of the things that we're actually looking at."

It's understood scheduling and current contracting challenges are the only factors which prevented du Plessis making his return to the T20 international team later this month against the West Indies.