Superstar batsman AB de Villiers has stepped down as South Africa's Test captain and has been ruled out of the country's three-match Test series against Sri Lanka after it was confirmed that he has not recovered from the elbow injury.

De Villiers' resignation means that Faf du Plessis has been confirmed by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to take over the reins of the Test side, with de Villiers too endorsing du Plessis for the way he has handled the captaincy during his absence.

"The interests of the team must always outweigh the interests of any individual, including me. It was fantastic honour for me to be asked to captain the Test side but I have missed two series and I am still in doubt for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka. Following the squad's outstanding performances in Australia, it is clearly in the greater interests of the team that Faf du Plessis should be confirmed as the permanent Test captain", de Villiers said, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

The 32-year-old has been out of action since being diagnosed with an elbow problem during the Caribbean Premier League in July and was expected to be fit for the Sri Lanka Test series, but the medical team feels he needs another month before he can be fully fit. De Villiers underwent surgery on his left elbow in October following his packed scheduled, with many attributing his tendency to play in a number of Twenty20 leagues the cause of the injury.

With the batsman deciding to step down, it means that he has not led his side on to the field since being named the permanent Test captain in February. In his absence, du Plessis has stamped his mark on the side leading the Proteas to a 1-0 Test series win over New Zealand, a 5-0 whitewash of Australia in the One Day Internationals and a 2-1 win over the same opposition in Tests.