South Africa appointed Quinton De Kock as their Test skipper following Faf Du Plessis’ stint as Test captain. This move made De Kock South Africa’s all-format skipper. The wicketkeeper-batsman already had keeping duties to take care of. To add to this, even the captaincy was handed over to him. Kock has since then given an impression of being a reluctant captain. Even though Cricket South Africa have conceded that Kock is a stop-gap arrangement but whatever little we have seen of his captaincy, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
Quinton De Kock posted a picture ahead of the 2nd Test against Pakistan saying, “Can’t wait to get back on the water again!”. It wasn’t the caption on the post which mattered but the date when Kock posted it. He shared the picture on February 2, three days after the Karachi Test loss and two days before the second match of the series in Rawalpindi.
People wondered how come a captain post such a thing ahead of an important Test match. People thought whether South Africa’s captain was longing to go fishing in the middle of his team’s most important series this season? They were surprised that it came in the wake of a defeat. It rang several alarm bells loudly.
The answer lies in the fact that how De Kock has responded to the bio bubble life all through. He has been in the bio-bubble bubble environment since September. It started with the IPL arrangements preceded by home series England in September. He was then part of the squad which played Sri Lanka in December and January. The team later toured Pakistan.
It doesn’t just end there, Pakistan will be in South Africa this April. That series will be followed by the IPL. It is about players moving from one bubble to another. But how long can one endure this? This is the raging question bothering all the top athletes in the post covid era.
Quinton De Kock has repeatedly stressed the issue of bio bubble life in his different press briefings. He opined after defeating Sri Lanka in Tests in 3 days that, “Lots of small things get into your mind; things that you’re not used to in life. One day we could live kind of normally and the next you’re in lockdown. Where do we go from there? We’re stuck in a bubble, and we could be stuck in a lockdown in some place for a certain period of time, which is the worst-case scenario. It’s very unsettling. I don’t know how long it can last for.” It came as a surprise that there was a captain fresh from victory speaking about the difficulties of a bio bubble environment.
It was just about to get worse for De Kock. He stated that in no small measure. In a press conference preceding the Pakistan series, he stated, “Eventually [bubble life] will catch up with some players, from an emotional and mental side. You’re trying to keep yourself mentally stable and perform for your country at once. There’s only so much of that you can carry on with. But you carry on because people back home want to watch good cricket and want to watch you perform. I’ve only been home for a maximum of three weeks over the last five, six months. It’s been tough but I’m soldiering on. Going forward, two weeks quarantine is almost out of the picture because we play so much cricket.”
It is about time we addressed the concerns of players else there will be more such cases like Quinton De Kock, who might be on the verge of walking away from the sport altogether.