South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock announced on Thursday his retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect.
The shock announcement from the 29-year-old came just hours after he was part of the South African team beaten by 113 runs in the first Test against India at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
De Kock said he remained committed to playing international limited overs cricket.
Twice named as South African Cricketer of the Year, De Kock said in a statement that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
It had already been announced he would miss the second and third Tests against India because his wife, Sasha, is about to give birth to the couple’s first child.
De Kock is regarded as one of the most talented wicketkeeper-batsmen in the world.
He scored 3300 runs at an average of 38.82 in 54 Tests, scoring at a rate of more than 70 runs per 100 balls. He took 221 catches and made 11 stumpings.
De Kock captained his country in four Tests last season, almost on an interim basis after Faf du Plessis made way. He had already been the white-ball captain when the decision was made to hand him the Test captaincy for a short period while the decision to appoint a permanent captain was taken. Since then, Temba Bavuma has been leading in white-ball cricket while Dean Elgar is the Test captain.
De Kock’s retirement means that only three players in the current South African squad have made Test centuries – captain Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma.
De Kock’s place in the Test team is expected to be taken by Kyle Verreynne, who made his debut as a specialist batsman during a series in the West Indies in June.
Here’s de Kock’s statement:
This is not a decision that I have come to very easily. I have taken a lot of time to think about what my future looks like and what needs to take priority in my life now that Sasha and I are about to welcome our first child into this world and look to grow our family beyond that. My family is everything to me and I want to have the time and space to be able to be with them during this new and exciting chapter of our lives.
I love Test cricket and I love representing my country and all that it comes with. I’ve enjoyed the ups and the downs, the celebrations and even the disappointments, but now I’ve found something that I love even more.
In life, you can buy almost everything except for time, and right now, it’s time to do right by the people that mean the most to me.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of my Test cricket journey from the very beginning. To my coaches, teammates, the various management teams and my family and friends – I couldn’t have shown up as I did without your support.
This is not the end of my career as a Protea, I’m fully committed to white ball cricket and representing my country to the best of my ability for the foreseeable future.
All the best to my teammates for the remainder of this Test series against India.
See you in the ODIs and T20s.
De Kock was recently embroiled in controversy during the T20 World Cup in October when he refused an order from Cricket South Africa to take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter.
The order came shortly before a match against the West Indies and it was initially announced that De Kock had withdrawn from the match for personal reasons.
After a meeting with Cricket South Africa officials, De Kock apologised and committed to the gesture for future matches. He, of course, made no mention of the incident in his retirement statement.
(With AFP inputs)