On Saturday (March 7th, 2015), GSV posted an article following the Proteas less than colourable loss to Pakistan where we looked at a few deficiencies within the South African team, and singled out a pair of players who we believed had not merited their inclusion in the squad judging by their performances and the performances of the players who were left at home. One such player was opening batsman Quinton de Kock, who we criticised, perhaps rightfully so, for his performances so far in this tournament. But whether it was due to the overall tone of the article, or perhaps the heightened emotions following the loss, we declined to highlight the positive aspects of de Kock’s inclusion in the squad, and more importantly, the potential contribution he brings to the bigger picture as far as the national team is concerned. So as an organisation that acknowledges when it’s missed a beat with its writing, we have dedicated this feature towards shedding more light as to why Quinton de Kock had to be in the squad and his relevance to the Proteas setup going forward.
But first, a bio:
Name: Quinton de Kock
Date of Birth: 17 December 1992
Batting Role: Opening batsman (left handed)
Fielding Role: Wicketkeeper
Teams: Sunrisers Hyderabad; Highveld Lions; Delhi Daredevils; Gauteng U-19s; South Africa U-19s; South Africa
ODI Matches: 41
ODI Runs: 1513
ODI Batting Average: 37.82
Highest ODI Score: 135
ODI 100s: 6
ODI 50s: 4
ODI 4s: 167
ODI 6s: 18
ODI Catches Taken (As Wicketkeeper): 65
ODI Stumpings: 3
When it comes to South African opening batsmen at One Day International level, Quinton de Kock is a new breed of free-hitting willow swingers that aim to take advantage of the early fielding restrictions placed on the bowling side by taking on the opening bowlers from the offset and not allowing them to build any sort of rhythm as they go through their first couple of over’s in the mandatory powerplay. This Christopher Henry Gayle-esque approach to batting may not be completely new to the international Cricket scene as a whole, yet it is certainly a fairly new occurrence for many South African cricket viewers that grew an affinity towards the Proteas when they looked to build a solid innings off the back of more cautious batting early in the innings before looking to explode with a flurry of late runs knowing that they can play freely because they would have a few wickets in hand and that their batting order was on the longish side with more bowling all-rounder’s that could be counted on to chip in with a few runs when needed. Well, the good-old days are fast becoming a thing of the past with the talent pool growing in depth as the game of cricket spreads into even more communities and regions than it did before and unearthing far more talent than the selectors know what to do with at times; young cricketers with all-round abilities are being implored to ensure that they lean more towards being a specialist in at least one area if they seek to improve their chances of selection from junior national team level upwards or even just to make it as a good pro at domestic level now that elite level ready young players are no longer such a rare commodity.
That brings us back to young “dreamy eyed, cute smiling Quinton”, the lad could easily have been overlooked if he was just a young and talented cricketer who could score some quick runs in bunches or show off his agility and hand-eye coordination by pulling off a few catches behind the stumps with regularity; but the fact that de Kock combines both of those match winning abilities into one package that can often prove to be the quantitative differentiator in modern One Day International’s where you either have to be able to field a side that sets 300 regularly or be blessed with a bowling attack that rips through a batting order with relative ease while remaining very economical, to pull off either one of those mammoth feats regularly necessitates the need for a team to have a Quinton de Kock in their arsenal. When we consider the fact that over 50% of Quinny’s ODI runs to date have come from boundaries, one begins to gain a clearer picture of just how different this lad really is when it comes to his application towards the craft of opening the batting; Quinton is the type of player that can set the tone for a batting unit that needs to set a big total or chase one down, his ability to score bucket loads of runs quickly with more high-risk shot selection and no understanding of the defensive strokes means that he either scores runs or leaves the crease without wasting balls and placing the side under even more pressure. Overall, Quinton is the key to South Africa not only winning a World Cup anytime soon but also enjoying a more sustained spell of dominance in the ODI format of the game and even more so at T20 International level too; he will inspire a new generation of cricketers that have come up watching the big-hitters make a name for themselves in the shorter formats of the game and have tailor-made their approach to batting for the maximum runs off most deliveries off seeing the success that they have enjoyed doing so.
The fact that many constantly seem to question his approach to batting cannot be overlooked, his lack of defensive stroke development irks the most passionate of purists and yet even they would tell you that talented batsmen with flair and fluidity don’t come much better than the 22 year old Gauteng born boundary hitting machine; South African cricket has simply been lucky to have been blessed with a more carefree opening left-handed batsmen at this moment when we have a couple of balanced lads coming in after him who have the ability to dictate the tempo almost as well as he can, while also having the mental and technical aptitude to take the foot off the pedal and build an innings at a much slower tempo after a few wickets have tumbled at the top. One fact we cannot underestimate is that many of the key Proteas that we have progressively built our team around are now on the other side of 30 and will need to be slowly phased out for their replacements by the time we head to The British Isles in 2019 if we are to continue building a thriving Proteas side going forward; that fact alone makes Quinton very weighty to the entire setup as a whole, allowing him to encounter his dry spells now, when he still has an experienced team backing him up, will only serve to make him a more determined and well rounded figurehead by the time we get in a fresh batch of Proteas for the international one day cricket scene to catch a whiff of.
By the time he was 20 years old and beginning to experiment with shaving equipment, Quinton had amassed the numbers, accolades and hype that many seasoned cricketers retire without seeing, the fact that he had never seemed to be dry when it came to runs built this allure around him that runs should keep flowing out of him whenever he is at the crease; the truth of the matter is that Quinton did so well while still in his developmental phase that whenever he doesn’t equal or surpass that benchmark of scoring quick runs in bunches, there will be murmurs of him needing to be dropped or moved lower down the order to play as a slugger that comes in to finish off an innings, that’s just the nature of his go big or go home game. While his lack of form may have us feeling as if he has let the nation, and himself, down on such a grand stage we at GSV are glad that the management staff have kept their faith in the lad and we are of the belief that it’s only a matter of time before Quinny gets his groove back; he is a talented lad that has added a great sense of balance to the entire side and he remains a beacon of hope for young lads giving it their all in the nets every afternoon, while their mates are taking a dive in the pool, with the knowledge that ones age cannot deterring factor when one is born to be a Protea, they will see that its possible to break into the squad and stay in when you have the talent and potential to back up your selection regardless of your age or inability to walk into certain nightclubs, where age does become more than just a number.