“It hasn’t freed up my calendar – at least not this year,” de Kock said, in his first press engagement since stepping away from Tests. “I’ve been roped in to play a couple of leagues but that’s my own consequence. I am happy to do it. It’s still a sacrifice but I’m slowly getting to an age where I need to think about where I want to be in my career. As long as I can do it at my own pace then I am happy.”
After de Kock returned from paternity leave to play in South Africa’s white-ball matches against India in January, he had almost two months off before a series against Bangladesh but he has been on the go since then. He played for the Lucknow Super Giants at the IPL, for South Africa against India, is now in England, and will also play The Hundred and the CPL before another white-ball series in India followed by the T20 World Cup.
And he acknowledged that it’s becoming more difficult to decide what to participate in and that for many players, dropping a format is the only option. “It’s going to start being tough for players – three formats is a lot and it looks like more games are happening over the calendar,” he said. “Players need to make decisions individually and if they feel they can do it [play all three formats], I am happy for them. But guys need to take decisions into their own hands. For me, I am happy where I am.”
Despite many predicting a slow death for ODI cricket, de Kock still has faith in the format, hopes South Africa will play more 50-over cricket, and has indicated he will keep at it for now. “I want to say we need to play more games but I don’t see where,” he said. “The [ODI] game is doing well for itself with the way players are going about it and from a batting and bowling competitiveness. There’s a future for it and a lot of us still want to win 50-over World Cups. There’s a lot to play for.”
de Kock encouraged newer players to continue pursuing all three formats and said that it only becomes difficult to fit all in as you age or your priorities change. “When you’re still young you need to play all three formats and get certain things done in your career,” he said. “It starts getting harder as you start getting older and the body doesn’t cooperate like it used to. It’s just a management thing.”