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Cape Town – Proteas coach Gary Kirsten has pledged that his squad will be carefully monitored and managed to prevent burn-out and injury.
At the same time, however, he is determined that South Africa will put the best team forward to win the three-match ODI series against New Zealand which starts in Paarl on Saturday.
Pursuing that objective, captain AB de Villiers will hand over the wicketkeeping gloves to 20-year-old Quinton de Kock, who made his debut at senior international level in the T20 series against New Zealand.
“We wanted to give AB the chance to concentrate on captaining the side,” Kirsten said on Thursday.
“It is a huge burden to captain the side, play a major batting role and keep wicket. And this is a format which for a wicketkeeper is probably more intense than Tests.
“At the same time it will give us the opportunity to look at a young ‘keeper who also has quality batting.”
There is still a cloud over De Kock, who faces a disciplinary hearing into his part in an altercation which occurred during the Sunfoil Series match between the Cape Cobras and the Higveld Lions last week, in which De Kock was said to have pushed another player amid allegations of ball-tampering.
The disciplinary commissioners were expected to name a date next week, leaving De Kock free to play at least the first two ODIs against the Black Caps.
Kirsten did not believe this would be a distraction for the youngster.
“We set very high standards which we expect to filter through all forms of the game.
“He will get a very good understanding through the next few days of what is required at this level.
“It is a massive privilege to play for your country, and his senior players will undoubtedly help him.”
On a technical front, De Kock was working with Mark Boucher, whose career was tragically cut short after 147 Tests and 295 ODIs when he picked up a serious eye injury in the first warm-up game of South Africa’s tour of England last year.
The Proteas have three ODI matches against New Zealand, and five against Pakistan immediately afterwards before heading to England for the Champions Trophy in June.
“We have got a lot of cricket ahead of us in the next few weeks, so we will assess the situation,” Kirsten said.
“All the players love playing the one-day format, and they are fit enough to do it, but I want my players to be 100 percent mentally fresh and ready to play for their country.
“But we are mindful that we want to win the series. We don’t take anything for granted.
“New Zealand are an international team and in the one-day game anything can happen.” – Sapa