South Africa captain Quinton de Kock will take a ‘mental health’ break and skip a forthcoming domestic Twenty20 tournament on medical advice.
Andrew Breetzke, chief executive of the SA Cricketers’ Association, told ESPNcricinfo De Kock would take time off from the game “for a few weeks”.
“SACA and Cricket South Africa will continue to support him through this process,” said Breetzke.
De Kock, South Africa’s cricketer of the year in 2020, returned from Pakistan last week after leading South Africa in two losing Test matches during which he struggled as a batsman and was criticised for his captaincy.
De Kock, South Africa’s regular white-ball captain, agreed to skipper the Test side in a temporary capacity during the current season.
He acknowledged last month he was feeling the strain of living in bio-secure bubbles which are a reality for international cricketers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking after captaining South Africa to a home Test series win against Sri Lanka, De Kock questioned the sustainability of ‘bubble’ life which he described as “unsettling”.
He said then that he had mixed feelings about touring Pakistan because of the frustrations of being confined to a bio-secure environment.
South Africa’s director of cricket Graeme Smith said earlier on Monday that all of the country’s contracted players would play in the T20 tournament, as well as the remaining matches in a four-day competition.
But it later emerged that De Kock and Faf du Plessis were not in the squads announced by the country’s six franchises. The reasons for Du Plessis’ absence was not known.
All the T20 matches will be played in Durban between February 19 and 29, with players staying in a bio-secure environment.
Although the country’s Test players have had a week off since returning from Pakistan, the national T20 squad would have to go straight into the ‘bubble’ after arriving from a series which ended on Sunday.
“We are trying to manage these bubble lives that the players are spending time in, the mental health and welfare of players,” said Smith.
“But we need to do get our (national) players playing. We’ve got a lot of growth to happen in our men’s game and for players to step up.”