Proteas' future looking rosy

2011-11-03 17:06
Marchant de Lange (File)
Cape Town - Five wickets from 21-year-old Marchant de Lange for South Africa "A" against Australia and a sparkling 1-Day Cup debut by 18-year-old Highveld Lions wicketkeeper/batsman Quinton de Kock must have given Andrew Hudson and his fellow national selectors much positive food for thought this week.

De Lange’s performance was of particular interest because the early part of the season has been dominated by the debate about the Proteas’ fast bowling resources

The cupboard is nowhere near as bare as some critics have pointed out. De Lange wasn’t the only bowler to impress against Australia. Test squad member Vernon Philander struck crucial blows up front as did Wayne Parnell. Bowling a full-strength Australian XI out for a low score is an outstanding achievement regardless of the circumstances.

Wicketkeeping is a department where the South Africana are probably better stocked than any other country if you look at Mark Boucher and AB de Villiers being at the head of the queue. De Kock has not only added his name to the wicketkeeping queue but as a specialist batsman as well.

He opens the batting for South Africa under-19 and had the best average in the recent winning ODI series in England under conditions that were new to him. He also made a remarkable unbeaten 102 off 51 balls in a T20 International match against Zimbabwe.

It has always been well known that De Kock has the talent. What Tuesday evening’s knock of 83 off 86 balls (7 fours and 2 sixes) did reveal is that he has the mental composure as well and that is always the great divide between the players who kick on to become international stars and the rest.

He came to the crease with the Lions tottering at 31/3 with the three batsmen dismissed having contributed 9 runs between them and all of those ahead of him on the batting list having struggled to come to terms with the pace of the pitch.

The first ball he faced from Rowan Richards was dispatched through the covers for four and he repeated the medicine four balls later. The hallmarks of his innings were the judgment he showed in shot selection and the almost effortless manner in which he collected his runs. There was also a touch of Herschelle Gibbs in the manner in which he drove Henry Davids over mid-off for the second of his two sixes.

He did play two SuperSport Series matches for the Lions last season when his national under-19 commitments permitted but this was his first real stride on to the bigger stage of franchise cricket. In the three-day CSA Provincial competition he has already scored three centuries and has an average of close to 70.

In spite of the wide margin of the Titans’ victory (they had 7 wickets in hand and nearly 100 balls to spare at the finish) this match was an excellent start to a return to 50 overs cricket in domestic competition and produced a high standard.

Henry Davids and Jacques Rudolph produced an opening stand of 139 in 18 overs that was a performance of almost breathless belligerence. Davids finished on 81 (58 balls, 9 fours and 4 sixes) and for good measure shared the new ball and started with a maiden over! He was an obvious candidate for man-of-the-match honours.

This opening stand represented the difference between the two sides. The Lions barely reached 30 in the opening power play and they could never make up that margin of difference.

The Lions' total had looked reasonably competitive but their bowlers were not able to build on what De Kock and Jean Symes had created.

The wide margin of victory gave the Titans a bonus point.

The next two matches take place on Friday (15:00 start). The Dolphins play the Cape Cobras at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in a match that will feature a host of Proteas while the Warriors, also bolstered by returning internationals, are at home to the Knights at Buffalo Park.


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