De Kock under cloud for Hamilton Test, IPL
South Africa will take a late call on Quinton de Kock's availability for the Hamilton Test after scans revealed tendon damage to his right index finger. If de Kock is able to bat pain free with extra strapping, he will play in Hamilton, but even if he participates in the match, his availability for the IPL is in doubt. De Kock will need at between four to six weeks to completely recover.
ESPNcricinfo understands South African team management have already had discussions with Delhi Daredevils coach Paddy Upton to explain de Kock's injury. Should de Kock withdraw from the tournament, he will be the second South African player to pull out of the event, after his Daredevils team-mate JP Duminy decided to miss this year's event due to personal reasons.
"There is every likelihood he will miss the IPL because he will need at least four to six weeks recovery. Being a wickerkeeper, every time he catches the ball, the stress goes onto that area," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, who is also a medical doctor, said. "The risk is that if he doesn't have that four to six weeks rest, and he further aggravates it, it could jeopardise his participation in the Champions Trophy. With that in mind and with the England tour after that, its important we give him the allocated time to recover for the injury."
De Kock's injury was sustained on the third day in Wellington, last Saturday, when he had X-rays done on the finger. A fracture was ruled out. However, he complained of discomfort and could not participate in nets on either Wednesday or Thursday, prompting South Africa to seek another solution. Physiotherapist Brandon Jackson is exploring ways of creating extra padding and team management will take a call on Friday afternoon about whether they will risk de Kock for the match. Should they decide not to, reserve wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen, on his maiden Test tour, will take over and de Kock's recovery period can begin with an aim to return to full fitness by mid-May.
South Africa's players, especially those who play in all formats, are in the middle of one of their busiest periods after the season began last August, with home Tests against New Zealand. They hosted Australia for five ODIs, played three Tests in Australia, a home series against Sri Lanka and an away tour to New Zealand. Those who play in the IPL will travel to India immediately after this series and then head straight into a training camp before the ODIs in England, the Champions Trophy, three T20s and a four-Test series. Only then, will they have a few weeks off before a home summer that includes 10 Tests and the inaugural South African T20 competition.
De Kock was also injured before the last major ICC tournament, and the lay-off affected his form. He rolled over his ankle during the home Test series against West Indies in December 2014 and made a quicker-than-expected comeback in the ODI series that followed in January. However, his World Cup started poorly, with six scores under 20 before an unbeaten 78 in the quarter-final against Sri Lanka.
Since then, de Kock has become one of South Africa's stalwarts across both Test and limited overs cricket. He finished 2016 as South Africa's highest ODI run-scorer and second-highest Test batsman and was on run of five scores of over 50 at one stage. He has continued his form into 2017 and was part of a match-winning partnership with Temba Bavuma in Wellington.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent