De Kock boost for South Africa

New Straits Times - - Sport -

WELLING­TON: South Africa’s Quin­ton de Kock has been cleared to play the third Test against New Zealand in Hamil­ton af­ter pass­ing a late fit­ness test yes­ter­day.

The 24-year-old wick­et­keeper in­jured the in­dex fin­ger on his right hand while field­ing in South Africa’s eight-wicket win in the sec­ond Test in Welling­ton and un­der­went scans ear­lier this week.

He missed train­ing on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day and while scans de­ter­mined the fin­ger was not bro­ken, he had dam­aged ten­dons.

De Kock trained yes­ter­day with strap­ping and a pro­tec­tive splint and South Africa cap­tain Faf du Plessis said as far as he was con­cerned the ag­gres­sive bats­man was too im­por­tant to leave out for the se­ries-de­cid­ing match start­ing to­day.

“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,” du Plessis told re­porters in Hamil­ton.

“He has had prob­lems with his fin­gers for quite a while. It’s part of be­ing a keeper. It’s never nice to catch balls on the fin­ger­tips all the time and it’s been painful for him for a while.

“Maybe the cold New Zealand con­di­tions make it worse. It’s hurt­ing for him a bit more now but be­cause it’s a big game, rest­ing him for some­one else is not an op­tion.”

New Zealand need to win the Sed­don Park match to level the three-match se­ries at 1-1 but have been ham­pered by the loss of three piv­otal play­ers.

Bats­man Ross Tay­lor, who missed the sec­ond Test with a torn calf, is again un­avail­able, while the pace-bowl­ing duo of Tim Southee (ham­string) and Trent Boult (groin) were ruled out in the last 24 hours.

Du Plessis said the loss of all three would be tough to over­come for the hosts and his team would be do­ing their best to ex­ploit their ab­sence and put pres­sure on Kane Wil­liamson’s side.

“It’s a huge blow,” du Plessis said. “I al­ways take ref­er­ence to our own team — if we lose guys like them in our side, it will be a huge loss.

“You don’t just re­place that in Test cricket. But we know who­ever comes in can do a job for the day and we have to re­spect that.

“We are try­ing to put as much pres­sure as we can on New Zealand and... if we do that, hope­fully it will be eas­ier but it’s never a guar­an­tee.” Reuters

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