HAMILTON: Injured South African Quinton de Kock was Friday cleared to play in the third Test against New Zealand after captain Faf du Plessis said resting the influential wicketkeeper-batsman was not an option.
Despite South Africa having an unbeatable 1-0 lead going into Saturday’s final Test, du Plessis described their batting as “not good enough” and said he wanted his best possible team on the field.
“It’s a big game. Quinton is someone who you don’t just replace. From my side, I am trying to have Quinton in my team all the time,” he said.
South African team medical officials say it could take several weeks for the ligament damage in de Kock’s right index finger to heal.
But after wearing a protective covering to dull the pain during batting and fielding practice he was given approval to play.
New Zealand have strike bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult along with senior batsman Ross Taylor sidelined by injury, and du Plessis said while that made things “a little bit easier” it was no reason to rest de Kock.
“We’ll be trying to put as much pressure on New Zealand, playing our strongest team. To push (de Kock) for one more game is something that’s important for the team,” the captain said before the training session.
“If it’s a 50-50 (injury), and I think it is, then he will be able to play definitely because it’s a big game for us. To rest him for someone else, for me personally, is not an option.”
The number two South African wicketkeeper on this tour, Heinrich Klaasen, has never played a Test.
Central to du Plessis’s drive to field his strongest side is that another victory over New Zealand will lift South Africa to number two in the world, completing a remarkable turnaround since being ranked as low as seventh 12 months ago.
“It’s been an incredible year for us and that’s why (this Test) is so important for me,” he said.
“Our goal was to try get back to number two at the end of the season, and if we do that in this Test match it will be an incredible year and we’ve ticked every box and we’ve won every series we’ve played.”
De Kock made 91 in a 160-run match-winning partnership with Temba Bavuma (89) in the second Test, but du Plessis said too few South African batsmen are scoring runs.
“The standard we set for ourselves as a batting unit is extremely high and we haven’t delivered on that,” he said.
“In every series we’ve played there’s been one or two guys that’s put their hand up and that’s been great. But, if we don’t have those guys who save us on the day there would have been a few times we would have been rolled out cheaply.
“So that’s a concern and that’s something we have to work on. It’s not good enough.”