South Africa have hinted at the possibility of Quinton de Kock being a captaincy candidate keeping in mind next year's T20 World Cup in Australia. De Kock will lead a fairly young side in the three T20Is against India in regular captain Faf du Plessis' absence, as their new team director Enoch Nkwe wants to "start building for the future".
"I strongly believe that we have a good enough squad. We have a good leader here," Nkwe said at South Africa's arrival press conference in Dharamsala, ahead of the series opener on Sunday. "It's also an opportunity to start building for the future. We know where Faf stands, as a captain and as a player. He's done great things for South African cricket. We also need to look at what the future looks like. We believe in Quinton, who's going to be leading the team in this series."
South Africa's post World Cup shake-up and du Plessis' age (35) could be among the reasons for them looking at new candidates. De Kock is just 26 and has featured in 191 internationals across formats since his debut in 2012. In India, he will lead a squad of 14 that features several newcomers. Nkwe, however, believes the players have got "good enough experience".
"If you look at the group of guys, we've got good enough experience," Nkwe said. "The captain himself has played a lot of cricket here in India. We've got fresh blood that is coming into the squad and that's very exciting. We'll be competitive. We want to walk away with a series win. The entire squad is very determined. We're here to win. We understand that the opposition is strong in their backyard, but that's something we're going to leave on the park. We're going to give 100%.
"At the end of the day, as a professional team, we're entertainers. We hope that the kind of cricket we'll be playing out there, people will be able to read and understand the brand of cricket we want to play. It's a new chapter, and there are some new characters in the group. We're still in the process of defining ourselves, but I know for sure that the guys want to get out there and play some exciting cricket."
De Kock said he was "looking forward" to the young team competing and fighting under him. "Coming into this series, we've got a lot of new players. Win or lose, I just want the guys to keep competing, keep fighting. As long as they keep doing that, I'm sure we'll be in good hands. We've got quite a young team, so there will be a lot of energy. Looking forward to that."
The tour of India will be South Africa's first assignment since their disastrous World Cup campaign but they are now looking ahead to the next global event as they have close to 20 games in hand before the T20 World Cup in October next year.
"The focus for now is this coming series against India," Nkwe said. "We're looking to invest in a good foundation going into the T20 World Cup next year in Australia. But we still have a lot of games. We have about 20 games. So we'll reassess the situation after these three games against India and see where we're at, and how we build into the England series and so on. But for now the focus is the Indian series."
South African can draw inspiration from their T20I (2-0) and ODI (3-2) series wins when they last toured India, in 2015. De Kock had not featured in the T20 series then but he troubled the hosts in the ODIs, finishing as the third-highest scorer, behind team-mates du Plessis and AB de Villiers, with a tally of 318 runs and an impressive average of 63.60, with two centuries.
"I haven't played here (Dharamsala) myself, I've been here before but I haven't played here," de Kock recalled the opening T20 of the 2015 series in which South Africa had chased down 200 with seven wickets in hand. "The last time we were here, the wicket did play very well. I think Rohit [Sharma] got a hundred here, but we ended up chasing it down. So in the one game I've experienced here, it could be a good wicket. But we're coming into the unknown, so we'll have to assess quickly, and then just adapt."
Dear Lord. Can you imagine his post match interviews...
"so quinny what did you think about the win"
..."um ja um it was like um, ya thanks to the team. they played well.
"quinny, tell us about the wicket"
..."um, ya i thought Hash batted well. Our bowlers put the ball in the right places, so um ya the win was good"