The Test captain’s armband is not necessarily something Quinton de Kock wants to keep for a long time, but the Proteas skipper was nevertheless satisfied that he had led his charges to a 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka in his maiden assignment.
But the 28-year-old is experienced enough after playing 49 Tests to know that beating the injury-depleted Sri Lankans on the Highveld is a far cry from the challenges that lie ahead when they leave for Pakistan on January 15 and then return home to hopefully take on the Australians.
“It was pretty cool winning my first series as captain but the plan for someone else to take over next summer will stay the way it is for now, unless they still haven’t found someone who can take over,” De Kock said after South Africa’s first series triumph since beating Pakistan two years ago.
“But I’m sure some leader will pop up. We won the series convincingly but we didn’t play our best cricket. We put ourselves under unnecessary pressure at the wrong times.
“The top teams really put you under pressure for a long while and going to Pakistan will be a new challenge, it will be exciting to try and overcome those conditions, there will be new learnings and challenges. But beating Sri Lanka was a good start though because we haven’t won a series for a while.”
While De Kock is clearly uneasy with combining all his different roles as captain, wicketkeeper and key batsman in five-day cricket, he also gave a glimpse into the difficulties of handling life in a bio-bubble, which has become the new normal for top cricketers. It must be tough for someone who is happiest when he is fishing alone on a beach or walking his dogs in the hills.
“There are lots of small things that we are not used to. One day you’re just living your life normally and the next you’re stuck in lockdown. The bubble also makes tours longer because you have to quarantine first and it’s all very unsettling. I’m not sure how much longer this can last for, but in the meantime we’ll have to just do our best to fit in.
“We have a bit more than a week off now before leaving for Pakistan on the 15th, which means we’re only going to be home for about two weeks in the next few months. It’s not ideal because you also need to spend some time not thinking about cricket,” De Kock said.
Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne also expressed his difficulties with the new arrangements in this time of Covid.
“You are in the bubble for a long time and it’s not easy because you need to refresh your mind. We are playing cricket under pressure and you need some space away from the game, you want to go out and eat or to meet friends. It’s unfortunate that we can’t have that pressure-release,” Karunaratne said.