South African wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock is facing flak for refusing to take a knee.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock’s recent return to top-flight cricket bodes well for the Mumbai Indians and their 2021 Indian Premier League campaign.

De Kock didn’t play any competitive cricket from early February to mid-March, missing South Africa’s limited-overs series against Pakistan.

He then made a relatively low-key return for the Titans in the 4-Day Domestic Series. Rather than open the batting, de Kock arrived at the crease down the order against the Lions in Johannesburg.

The multi-talented 28-year-old will be a key part of Mumbai’s attempt to secure a record sixth IPL title. Batsmen de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and other local and international stars have Mumbai among the favourites on the best betting sites. For example, bet365 have the reigning champions priced at 4.33 to win the tournament again.

The Mumbai bowling attack is also lined with international talent, including Australia’s Nathan Coulter-Nile, New Zealand’s Trent Boult and South African Marco Jansen. This reiterates their status as favourites ahead of outside contenders such as the Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders, who have been priced at 6.5 and 7.0 by ComeOn and Sportsbet.io, respectively.

De Kock was relieved of the Test captaincy after two defeats to Pakistan in Karachi and Rawalpindi earlier this year. Head coach Mark Boucher and director of cricket Graeme Smith publicly noted the intention to remove this burden from de Kock – and convener of selectors Victor Mpitsang duly formalised this.

“He hasn’t been fired. The agreement with Quinton when I got into the job was that we needed a Test captain, and it was just an interim job. Quinton probably feels that he needs to focus on his game. I wouldn’t want to see that as a burden because, at the time we made that decision. We’ve come to an agreement to say that he doesn’t need the captaincy anymore,” said Mpitsang.

De Kock is no longer ODI and T20I captain as well. He had assumed these roles from predecessor Faf du Plessis. Batsman Temba Bavuma has now taken over from de Kock.

“There’s always a bit of emotion around these things. Quinton understands that there’s a burden that comes with leadership. It hasn’t been an easy time for him either. He’s a proud guy. I’m sure there’s a bit of emotions and feelings around this,” added Smith.

“We have engaged with Quinton on this and the burden of leadership has been mentioned on a number of occasions. It required us to make a tough and important decision for South African cricket.”

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