“I wasn’t in the loop, as per his thinking or decision. With Quinny, at times, you can expect anything,” Bavuma said, ahead of South Africa’s first ODI against Australia in Bloemfontein. “It doesn’t change how we see the guy. It’s always been a pleasure playing with Quinton from our Under-15 days at school. He is an incredible player, talented; too much talent. He will be a big loss to South Africa at least in the ODI stuff.”
Bauvma and de Kock’s playing days date back to their time as schoolboys in Johannesburg and at the Lions franchise. De Kock made international debuts in all three formats before Bavuma, and also captained South Africa before Bavuma, who has long sought de Kock’s counsel on-field. “He is one of the guys I lean on from a tactical point of view. Not having him within the space is going to be a bit of a challenge but it’s something we will have to overcome,” Bavuma said.
“It’s become very dynamic and it’s important for international teams to adapt through that ever-changing landscape and try and find ways to stay ahead of that trend,” he said. “Credit to CSA and the South African Cricketers’ Association – they have taken note of that. There have been discussions around how we can position ourselves a lot better in terms of contracting players, making sure we still have access to our best players but also not compromising on players’ financial earning ability outside our own shores. That’s the way cricket is going. Gone are the days when we were inflexible and fighting against that change.”
Whether that means more players will follow de Kock’s footsteps remains to be seen, but the landscape is likely to continue shifting as the bilateral calendar shrinks, something Australia’s captain Mitchell Marsh also recognised. “The landscape of cricket is changing and there are a lot of T20 formats,” he said, but unlike de Kock, he does not foresee a future for himself in leagues alone. “I can only speak for me. Playing for my country has been an unbelievable joy and has given me great pride so I will focus on that for as long as I possibly can. There’s no doubt players will have tough decisions to make over the years. But I think international cricket is still the pinnacle.”
For many, this 50-over World Cup could represent the end of an era of sorts as international game learns to live alongside league cricket, and for Bavuma, it’s an ideal opportunity for South Africa to send one of their international stars, who is embracing T20 life, off with a bang. “With everything Quinny has achieved as a player – and the same could be said of a lot of guys within the group of a certain age – we would like to do something that hasn’t been done and that’s to win the World Cup. There’s no better way for him to walk away from South African cricket having done that.”