Cricket World Cup 2015

SCG to spark Quinton again?

2015-03-16 22:35
Quinton de Kock (AFP)

Cape Town – Quinton de Kock has experienced a personal turnaround in run-making fortune at the Sydney Cricket Ground before ... it seems the Proteas’ hope is for the phenomenon to occur twice in the space of some four months.

It may be just one, additional reason why South Africa will stoically keep their faith in the struggling wicketkeeper/batsman for Wednesday’s World Cup quarter-final against Sri Lanka there (05:30 SA time).

Unless the Proteas are selling a great bag of red herrings in statements during the lead-up, De Kock will be retained -- despite a miserable run of failures at the crease in the tournament thus far -- for the country’s quest to win a CWC knockout fixture for the very first time.

Public utterances from high-ranking squad personalities in the last few days lean heavily toward De Kock tackling the dangerous ‘Lankans.

First and presumably most illuminatingly, captain AB de Villiers, in a rich vein of own form with the blade, came out surprisingly strongly against the notion that he return to the behind-the-stumps chore, which would free up De Kock’s berth for somebody else depending on how the Proteas want to balance their XI.

Then deputy Hashim Amla spoke of “Quinny coming good at some stage”.

Coach Russell Domingo joined the pre-game optimism over the baby-faced talent from the Highveld Lions. He confessed: “We just sort of have this gut feel that Quinton has got a big score around the corner.”

Domingo may well be right; it is not as though the 22-year-old, with six one-day international centuries already to his name, has no prior track record of excellence yet in the national greens.

But there is also an understandable case for saying De Kock’s trot at the World Cup has been so lean that perhaps the Proteas should be taking harsher measures for a must-win fixture than backing him to the hilt in a stubborn period of under-delivery.

Indeed, SA enthusiasts are entitled to note acidly that if a De Kock turnaround really is around that bend Domingo mentioned, it ideally needs to be the next one ... otherwise the team may be on a glum flight home – again -- from cricket’s loftiest limited-overs stage every four years.

But there may also be some wisdom to not disturbing skipper De Villiers’s present mojo as a batsman and rank-and-file fielder, and fervently wishing that De Kock suddenly recaptures his batting touch while continuing his competency with the ‘keeping gloves.

Part of that is probably rooted in the young top-order stroke-player having been in a not dissimilar position on a fairly recent visit to the very same SCG – it was at the end of the bilateral series against Australia in late November.

De Kock entered the fifth and final ODI, admittedly with SA already a decisive 3-1 down, having endured some cheeky suggestions among Aussie pundits that his game had been just a little exposed in his fledgling top-flight experience of pitch conditions there.

Going into the match on November 23, the left-hander had registered humdrum series scores of two and four (Perth), 47 (Canberra) and 17 (Melbourne).

As if to purposefully rout the doubters, De Kock spearheaded the Proteas’ charge to what turned out to be a so nearly successfully defended total of 280 for six, striking 107 off 123 deliveries in an innings described in the match report by Daniel Brettig as exhibiting “poise and timing”.

Since that night, alas, he has managed only a further 57 runs in seven completed ODI innings, including six at the World Cup, and timing – the lack of it – has been a curse, by contrast.

Once again, he goes (or rather, probably goes) into a cricket match at Sydney’s illustrious premier venue at something of a personal crossroads on Wednesday.

The last time, he crossed that intersection with almost startling aplomb.

De Kock has also shown prior, pleasing “bouncebackability” against this week’s very knockout foes, and in their own challenging conditions.

In the 2013 bilateral series in Sri Lanka, emphatically won 4-1 by the hosts, De Kock was still very much an international novice, and it was shown in his knocks of 20, 8 and 27.

A year later, South Africa visited again and turned the tables 2-1, this time with the player making a precious 128 in the deciding third clash at Hambantota.

Knocks? Quinton de Kock has taken a few.

Rises from the canvas? Those haven’t been in short supply either.

Maybe that’s why those around him are so keen to keep him in the mix, despite all the current question marks.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  cwc 2015  |  quinton de kock  |  cape town  |  cricket

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