Quinton de Kock enjoys nothing more than his time away from the game by going fishing and playing golf, and at the age of 30 reckons he has served his time in the international arena.
“I’ve played a lot of cricket already,” says the stroke-playing batsman-wicketkeeper.
He retired from Test cricket in 2022, and the 2023 World Cup will bring down the curtain on his ODI career at an age when many players are reaching maturity.
He will remain available for T20Is – but, it seems, only when they don’t clash with more lucrative franchise opportunities.
De Kock is expected to miss a T20I series against India in December because he has signed a contract to play in Australia’s Big Bash League.
CSA has seemingly bowed to the reality that it will have to be flexible if it wants star players to be available for major tournaments such as next year’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and United States.
De Kock first played for Gauteng as a 15-year-old schoolboy in an unofficial match against a touring team from Durham.
He made his List A debut at 16, played first-class cricket at 17 and appeared for South Africa in a T20I just four days after his 20th birthday.
Far from overawed at his rapid ascent to cricketing stardom, the talented left-hander has resolutely done things his own way.
The story is told that the 15-year-old De Kock didn’t bother to put on a thigh pad when he went out to face a Durham attack which included England fast bowlers Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions.
“I honestly can’t remember, but it is probably true,” he says.
He had almost immediate success at every level and reeled off three successive ODI centuries against India before he turned 21.
Going into the World Cup, he has taken his tally of ODI hundreds to 17, opening the batting and invariably scoring at a rapid rate. He has scored six Test centuries and one in a T20I.
He missed a match in the T20 World Cup in the UAE in 2021 when he refused to obey a last-minute edict by CSA to “take the knee” in sympathy with the Black Lives Matter movement – not out of opposition to the cause but because of the way it was handled.
That incident came after he had captained South Africa in all three formats.
He never looked entirely comfortable in the leadership role and freely admits, “I don’t mind captaining but I was pretty happy to hand it over. It’s not really in my character.”
In an age of relentless reference to video analysis, De Kock said early in his career that he didn’t study potential opponents.
That remains his philosophy.
“I basically play what’s in front of me. You can look at videos, but it’s not the same as being in the middle.”
Nor does he think about cricket or practice when he’s away from the game.
He lives in Knysna, a popular tourist town on a large lagoon some five hours drive from Cape Town, where cricket can easily be forgotten.
“I like golf, fishing, spending time with my family,” he says. “I don’t touch a bat when I am at home. We play so much cricket that it’s like riding a bicycle. A couple of nets when I join up with the team and I’m ready to play.”
One of his regular golfing partners is legendary former South Africa batsman Barry Richards, who at 78 is old enough to be his grandfather.
“We see each other almost every day because we live in the same complex.”
Do they talk about cricket? “Not really. We might talk a bit about it but he’s like me, we talk mainly about other things.”
“I’ll give the World Cup my best shot. I would like to tick off an ICC event,” he says.
After that he might play T20 cricket for a maximum of five or six years before he walks away from the sport.
“I don’t see myself being involved in the game in any way when I stop playing. I want a life after cricket.”
© Agence France-Presse