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SA unsure on Quinton de Kock's T20I future: 'We have a glimmer of hope that sits in the background'

"Whether we see him again, time will tell," says South Africa's white-ball coach Rob Walter

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
04-Jul-2024
Was that Quinton de Kock's last international match?, India vs South Africa, T20 World Cup final, Bridgetown, Barbados, June 29, 2024

It remains to be seen if the T20 World Cup final was Quinton de Kock's last international match  •  ICC/Getty Images

South Africa are hopeful Quinton de Kock will remain available to play white-ball international cricket and realise his dream of winning a World Cup, as they are yet to receive news of his T20I retirement. De Kock called time on Tests in 2021 and ended his 50-over career at last year's ODI World Cup. The T20 World Cup in West Indies and USA was expected to be his last T20I outing but national white-ball coach Rob Walter hopes there may be more to come from de Kock.
"Quinny's an enigma. He hasn't officially called time. So we have that little glimmer of hope that sits in the background," Walter said on arrival in South Africa on Thursday. "Quinny has very high standards for himself and has dreamed about a World Cup win for a very long time. Has had a number of knocks along the way, not least this last final, You would have seen that he was very emotional with it. Whether we see him again, time will tell."
Walter has not broached the subject with de Kock yet and will not have to for some time. South Africa's next T20Is are in West Indies in August but de Kock is not on their national contract list and therefore not obliged to be available for those, or any other international games, but that will not compromise his selection in future.
As was the case with de Kock at this World Cup, when he was picked without playing the preceding series against India in December as he was at the BBL, national availability is no longer a non-negotiable ahead of big tournaments. That means de Kock may still come into contention for the 2026 T20 World Cup as long as he remains active on the league circuit.
"I've had no conversations with him. It wasn't the right time after the final to have that conversation," Walter said. "So let me leave it at saying your guess is as good as mine."
Luckily for Walter, the other likely retiree, David Miller, has left no one guessing over his future. Miller confirmed his availability for South Africa in an Instagram story when he said: "Contrary to reports, I have not retired from T20 international cricket. I will continue to be available for the Proteas. The best is yet to come."
The wording of Miller's post suggests he will also continue playing ODIs, which is important considering there remains a question of whether de Kock would consider an ODI U-turn, with the 2027 home World Cup in mind. If so, he may come into consideration for next year's Champions Trophy which is crucial to kicking off long-term preparations for the next ODI World Cup and presents another opportunity for South Africa to get their hands on a long-awaited trophy. Incidentally, it is the only ICC senior cup South Africa have won, in 1998.
"I think people underestimate the toughness of the Champions Trophy. For me, that's as strong a competition as any," Walter said. "Hopefully we continue to grow as a side and just keep putting ourselves in a position where we can compete. I said last year after the 50-over World Cup, I genuinely believed that semi-final would be the catalyst to us winning our first world trophy. And nothing's changed. We probably believe that even stronger now."
Walter identified the team's ability to stay in the game under pressure, which has historically not been the case, as the biggest improvement in his time in charge. "We've progressed, no doubt about that. This last World Cup, the team won small moments which in the past, potentially, haven't gone our way. There was huge resilience, we showed a large skill set and we encountered very different conditions from the start in New York to the back end of the competition so it showed great versatility as well. For me, the team is ever-growing. We've made strides, but by no means the finished article."
South Africa, as a nation, have now reached successive T20 World Cup finals thanks to their women's and men's team and director of cricket Enoch Nkwe called it a "massive mindset shift," to get there.
"Reaching two finals in a short period of time goes to show the buy-in, not only from the two teams, but also from a system point of view. There's been quite a lot of work that's been done and builds towards this moment. We're heading in the right direction. From a women's point of view, the eyes have always been on the 2025 Cricket World Cup. And from a men's point of view, 2027. This will definitely go a long way and give us that belief in the system that we can actually achieve according to this system."
Currently, South Africa's women's team are in India, where they will play three T20Is in final preparation for the October World Cup, while the men's team are on a break until early August, when their World Test Championship fixtures resume. Of the T20 World Cup squad, only Keshav Maharaj, Ottneil Baartman and Lungi Ngidi returned home with the rest either at the MLC or the Lanka Premier League.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket