Cape Town – Baby-faced stroke-player Quinton de Kock has
served further notice that the time has come for the Proteas to genuinely
invest in him as a limited-overs international player.
The 20-year-old left-hander produced another terrific,
game-tilting exhibition of crisp and clean hitting on a fairly tired,
challenging late-summer track at the Wanderers on Sunday to help his Lions
franchise to the Ram Slam T20 Challenge title at the expense of neighbours the
Titans in the final.
The Geoffrey Toyana-coached Lions, who also shared the
earlier Momentum One Day Cup competition spoils with the Cape Cobras, triumphed
by 30 runs and De Kock was top-scorer across either side with his almost always
fluent and purposeful 44 off only 31 deliveries.
It ensured a precious, rollicking start for his side after
they had won the toss on a surface that only got less and less suited to rosy
strike rates at the crease as the game progressed.
He looked a notch higher than the rest for both adaptability
to the conditions and urgency, and the innings not only ensured him the batsman-of-the-match
award but pushed him well over the 500-run mark in the competition this season.
De Kock ended with a glowing 524 runs (apparently the new SA
domestic record) at an average of 52.40 which is exceptional in the T20 format,
and his strike rate of 145.55 also truly put him in the “blistering” category.
He was a country mile ahead of anyone else: next highest
runs-scorer was the Cobras’ Dane Vilas on 389, whilst only Christiaan Jonker of
the Warriors (311) and the Knights’ re-emerging Rilee Rossouw (307) also got
past 300 runs for the T20 campaign.
De Kock bludgeoned 26 sixes and 44 fours in the competition,
again leaving him effortlessly top of the respective “leaderboards”: Jonker got
15 sixes and Vilas 32 fours for the nearest-challenger accolades.
The rookie former SA U19 star was also responsible for the
most talked-about knock of the franchise season when, near the start of the
tournament, he dismantled the Cobras attack to the tune of 126 not out off 69
balls at Potchefstroom in a nine-wicket thrashing despite a high-scoring
pattern on the day by both sides.
De Kock was a solid performer, if not as spectacular, in
both other domestic competitions, registering an average of 46.58 in six
Sunfoil Series appearances and 33.66 in the Momentum One Day Cup.
Increasingly, though, he is sending out the sort of signals
to suggest his skills – even bearing in mind certain inevitable, lingering
technical flaws – simply must be available to the Proteas’ one-day brew in both
The higher and more testing the level he plays at, the
quicker he will develop into the Full Monty as a match-winner, and it will come
as a surprise if he misses the cut when the national selectors slash their
provisional 30-strong squad to the eventual 15 needed for the ICC Champions
Trophy in the UK during June.
As much as anything else, De Kock would be most useful to
have around as quickly-available wicketkeeping back-up should AB de Villiers
The Lions phenomenon currently boasts three T20
international and four ODI caps, having offered glimpses rather than massive
statements of his ability thus far.
I would argue that he is too good to sideline and, although
such labels can be proved horribly premature and often fatal, it is difficult
to counter those who suggest South Africa may have its very own “new Adam
Gilchrist” in the making.
De Kock warrants a significant season-ticket now in national
one-day greens ...
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing