Graeme Smith admits burden on Quinton de Kock had become too much to bear
JOHANNESBURG – Graeme Smith said the captaining the Proteas had become too heavy a burden for Quinton de Kock to bear.
A series of meetings this week between Smith, Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket, the national selectors, including the panel’s convenor, Victor Mpitsang, led to De Kock being relieved as captain of the Proteas across all three formats.
“It was felt that the burden of leadership was just too much for a person or player like Quinton”, Smith said on Thursday.
“We wanted to free him up. His commitment to SA cricket is there. We want to get the best out of him as a player and as a team man. He’ll certainly form part of our leadership group. We felt this was the right way to move for South African cricket and to back it going forward.”
De Kock was first made skipper of South Africa’s limited overs team’s last summer when Faf du Plessis stepped down from those positions.
De Kock, 28, led the Proteas against England and then Australia – tying a One-Day series with England, but losing T20 series’s against both those countries. He did lead the side to a ODI series whitewash against the Australians.
However this summer, with the Covid-19 pandemic placing restrictions on player movements and how series’s were hosted, the burden on De Kock increased.
A naturally out-going individual, he found it difficult to overcome the restrictions put in place with bio-secure environments and on top of all of that, he was also asked to captain the Proteas Test side, albeit on a temporary basis. It was a job, he publicly admitted, he took on reluctantly.
“He’s a proud guy, and I’m sure there’s a bit of emotion and feelings around this,” said Smith.
When he came back from Pakistan, De Kock was granted a break for “mental health” reasons following talks with CSA and the SA Cricketers Association. De Kock had admitted that living, working, playing and training in a ‘bio-bubble’ as he’d done since September last year – when he went into the IPL ‘bubble’ in Dubai – had been “unsettling.”
Cricket SA didn’t help his cause by making him Test captain, although it was only supposed to be temporarily until the now cancelled tour by Australia.
With South Africa’s Test schedule limited, it allowed CSA to make a longer term decision in giving the Test side’s captaincy to Dean Elgar. But it did come as a surprise on Thursday that De Kock was also relieved of the limited overs captaincy, given that he’d been earmarked to lead the Proteas in those formats in what is a busy few years.
On Thursday Temba Bavuma was made captain of the Proteas in the limited overs formats.
“For myself, the selection panel and the coaches we truly believe this is the right way forward,” said Smith. “We’ve engaged with Quinton on this and the burden of leadership has been mentioned on a number of occasions. It required us to make a tough and important decision for South African cricket to finally back some leaders going forward which was crucial. I think through these deliberations we’ve chosen the best men to do that.”