Cricket

Quinton de Kock to return to competitive cricket with Titans vs Lions game this week

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Quinton de Kock will make his comeback to competitive cricket in South Africa’s first-class competition this week. de Kock has been training with his franchise, the Titans, and is available to play for them in their match against the Lions at the Wanderers, which starts on Tuesday.

de Kock has not played any cricket since South Africa’s Test side returned from their two-match series in Pakistan. He was not part of the T20I squad, as South Africa were planning to play Australia in Tests at home (though the series was indefinitely postponed) and took a mental-health break during South Africa’s T20 competition.

Earlier this month, de Kock was replaced as South Africa’s captain in all formats, having filled the Test role in a temporary capacity this summer and been installed as white-ball captain last February. Dean Elgar was appointed red-ball captain with Temba Bavuma taking over the ODI and T20I squads.

Although de Kock was expected to relinquish the long-format role, him being stripped of the limited-overs’ position as well came as a surprise, although selection convener Victor Mpitsang insisted it was a consultative decision. “He hasn’t been fired,” Mpitsang said. “We’ve come to an agreement to say that he doesn’t need the captaincy any more.”

At the time, director of cricket Graeme Smith said de Kock remained a key part of South Africa’s plans in future. His return to the game will also put him in a position to play for South Africa against Pakistan next month, although that series will clash with the IPL. de Kock is contracted to the Mumbai Indians and is likely to have to miss at least a part of the Pakistan series.

For now though, de Kock will want to do his bit to help the Titans secure their spot in the first-class final. They are currently at the top of Pool B, 14.16 points ahead of their nearest rivals, the Warriors. The top team from each pool will contest the final, which will be the last franchise match in South Africa before the system is dissolved to make way for a 15-team provincial set-up from next summer.

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