De Kock 'not fired' from captaincy, says selection chief Victor Mpitsang

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Quinton de Kock (Gallo)
Quinton de Kock (Gallo)
  • The decision to relieve Quinton de Kock from the Proteas captaincy was the result of an "agreement", says selection chief Victor Mpitsang.
  • Temba Bavuma has taken over the captaincy in ODIs and T20s while Dean Elgar is the new Test skipper.
  • Director of cricket Graeme Smith says the captaincy had become a "burden" for De Kock.

Quinton de Kock remains a part of the Proteas leadership group and putting the focus back on his performance was a major factor in the decision to relieve him from captaincy in all formats. 

Since being unveiled as South Africa's limited overs captain in February last year, De Kock has seen his workload pile up even more when, last December, he was named as the interim Test captain too. 

Results have been varied - the Proteas beat Sri Lanka at home and then lost to Pakistan away in Tests series under De Kock - but along the way De Kock also became vocal on the mental struggles that came with living in 'bio-bubbles' while playing cricket. 

When South Africa returned home following their tour to Pakistan and the February/March Test series against Australia was cancelled, De Kock was given some time off from the game and he did not play in the recently-completed CSA T20 Challenge, also hosted in a bio-bubble in Durban. 

That De Kock was relieved of the Test captaincy did not come as a surprise. That was always a temporary fix and the appointment of Test specialist Dean Elgar makes perfect sense. 

The decision to go with Temba Bavuma as full-time white ball captain in both ODIs and T20s, however, raised a few eyebrows given that De Kock was expected to take the side to this year's T20 World Cup in India. 

In a press conference on Thursday, selection convenor Victor Mpitsang and director of cricket Graeme Smith both explained the thought process. 

The clear focus is on De Kock the player and getting him back to his destructive best. 

The captaincy had become a "burden" for De Kock, Smith said, while Mpitsang said the conversations around leadership resulted in an "agreement" rather than a sacking. 

"He hasn't been fired," said Mpitsang.

"With the Test captaincy, the agreement with Quinton when I got into the job was that it was an interim job that would last until after the Australian series, which never happened.

"Quinton came back and didn't play in the T20 series for obvious reasons but he's gone away and he probably feels that he needs to focus on his game.

"I actually thought that, at the time when we made that decision, he actually did a hell of a good job with leading the group of young men against Australia.

"It comes to an agreement to say that he doesn't need the captaincy anymore."

Smith, meanwhile, said that there had been constant communication with De Kock throughout his captaincy. He felt that it was no time to back a permanent leadership.

"We've got a plan in place with him and we've engaged with him on a number of occasions and it was felt that the burden of leadership was just too much for or a person or a player like Quinton," said Smith. 

"We wanted to free him up. His commitment to South African cricket is there and we want to get the best out of him as a player and as a team man. He will certainly form part of our leadership group, but we felt that this was the right way to move for South African cricket."

Smith said he would understand if De Kock was perhaps "emotional" at the decision. 

"There is always a little bit of emotion around these things and I think Quinton understands that there is a burden that comes with leadership and it hasn't been an easy time for him," he said.

"He is a proud guy and I'm sure there is a little bit of emotion and feelings around this, but for myself, the coaches and the selection panel we truly believe this is the right way forward.

"It required us to make a tough, important decision for South African cricket. To finally back some leaders to go forward I think was crucial."

The Proteas are next in action when they host Pakistan in three ODIs and four T20s, staring on April 2.


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