Cape Town - “I lost interest, and I was in a bad space. I just went out and played care-free and it paid off. Then I gained self-confidence.”
Quinton de Kock’s formula for batting transformation is not one that you would necessarily attempt to emulate at home if you are a badly out-of-nick cricketer who cannot currently buy a run. But it yielded five centuries during the past two months for the 22-year old De Kock following his poor return during the first seven months of the year.
He smashed two One Day International (ODI) tons against India in the 3-2 series-win against them, an achievement that draws just a muted response from the stylish left-hander: “It was nice to score a few runs against India. The series-win against them will always be remembered.”
De Kock was dropped after averaging only 20.71 in the Cricket World Cup and subsequently also struggling in the ODIs against Bangladesh. His first-ball duck in the first test against Bangladesh was the last straw and he was discarded. The left-hander responded by striking three consecutive centuries for South Africa A. Two of them were blasted in the one-day series in India, and one in the unofficial first test against the hosts.
Remarkably, De Kock says he made no tactical changes. In fact, he was in a bad space, felt demoralized after being dropped and lost some interest. He responded with a care-free batting approach, and it paid off. That risk-free approach gained him a century, and it bolstered his self-confidence.
An area in which De Kock improved significantly, has been his play against spin. The series against Sri Lanka in 2013, had him in a spin and he returned to South Africa, working four hours per day for weeks to restore his faltering confidence. A few discussions with AB de Villiers and Gary Kirsten about his approach to spin has paid dividends.
Asked about his approach to return to the test team and the T20-group, De Kock said: “I would like to play test cricket for South Africa. Right now, my focus is not at the SA team. I want to score runs for The Titans and win four-day matches for them. I can only do what I can do, and leave the rest to the selectors.”
Remarkably, De Kock has not much interest in occupying the number-one spot in test cricket. He said he opened the innings for the Highveld Lions almost by default after Alviro Petersen had broken a finger. It proved to be a master stroke, as De Kock quickly established himself as a potential match-winner in that position. He once hammered a superb 194 in a four-day match for the Lions against the Cape Cobras.
But De Kock says he would like to bat at No 6 or seven and embrace the challenges there against the old ball and against the second new ball.
Asked about his Ram Slam T20 Challenge campaign and the match against the Knights for The Titans on Friday, De Kock says with his usual modesty. “I would like to re-establish myself in the South African team. Hopefully, if I make runs, I will have a chance to get into the final ICC Twenty20 squad.”