Pakistan in SA
De Kock poser for Proteas
Quinton de Kock (AFP Photo)
Durban – The abandonment of the first Twenty20 international between South Africa and Pakistan at Kingsmead here on Friday night delayed the answering of an intriguing question: is youthful talent Quinton de Kock still earmarked for a batting spot when not keeping wicket?
Ahead of the rained-off first encounter, captain Faf du Plessis had confirmed that established, match-winning strokeplayer AB de Villiers would not only be employed as an opening batsman but also do the glove work, at least initially in the short series.
It has now been reduced to a one-game shootout at Centurion’s SuperSport Park on Sunday (14:30), where weather prospects fortunately look much more promising.
The Proteas have released three members of their squad – De Kock, Aaron Phangiso
and Ryan McLaren
– to play in the domestic Ram Slam T20 Challenge fixture between the Lions and Knights at the Wanderers on Saturday (18:00) which some may wish to interpret as signs that they will be surplus to requirements for the international.
But Cricket South Africa added that they would still hook up with the squad ahead of the clash with Pakistan, and those players may well have been given the go-ahead to feature in the domestic encounter simply because of its conveniently close proximity to Centurion.
Before the ill-fated Kingsmead game, Du Plessis had also revealed that the SA top three against Pakistan there would have been De Villiers, Henry Davids
and then himself at first drop.
So that would have simultaneously taken the 20-year-old De Kock out of the top-order equation, and the remaining issue to be resolved would have been whether the team’s brains trust deem him suitable for either a slot at No 4 or 5 or perhaps even as a “finisher” a little lower than that.
Who to earmark as the designated power-player in the closing overs is a currently unsolved matter for the Proteas, although there are still high hopes that someone like big-striking left-hander David Miller
(top score 36 not out from 10 T20 international knocks thus far) will finally establish himself as a must-pick above franchise level.
De Kock has not yet settled into a particular slot in the SA order: in his maiden series against New Zealand recently he was used at four, seven and three and registered two not-outs in the trio of appearances, so nobody really seems any the wiser as to intentions for him.
Domestically, the Lions are only too aware of his top-end value, as evidenced in mid-February when he blasted the Cape Cobras attack all over Potchefstroom for an unbeaten, match-winning 126 off just 69 balls (strike rate 182) as opener.
Meanwhile someone like Kyle Abbott
would have had mixed feelings about the Kingsmead washout.
The Dolphins favourite was doubtless looking forward to making his T20 international debut before an anticipated home crowd of some 18,000.
Instead, though, he gets a pleasingly quick return to the venue of his Test debut carnage (match figures nine for 68) against the Pakistanis only last weekend.
The Proteas’ T20 coach, Russell Domingo, has confirmed that the fast-medium bowler will play at Centurion.
South Africa have only played two prior T20 internationals at SuperSport Park, but won each time against Australia and England respectively during 2009.*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing