Town - Quinton de Kock,
in the form of his life, is South
Africa's biggest weapon heading into the 2019 Cricket World Cup in
successive half-centuries at the top of the Proteas order have been a firm
reminder of exactly that.
The sporting clichés will tell
you that no one man is bigger than the team and that the focus should never be
on individuals, but in De Kock the Proteas have a batsman capable of destroying
any bowling attack in world cricket.
We know, because we have seen it
This Sri Lankan attack is
admittedly tame in comparison to others that the Proteas must combat in
England, but stunning cricket shots are still stunning cricket shots, and De
Kock has played them in abundance over the course of this series.
There remains uncertainty as to
who De Kock's opening partner will be at the World Cup with Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram all in that conversation,
but Proteas management can at least take heart in the knowledge that their
explosive game-changer at the top of the order is preparing in the best way
De Kock is feasting, and when he
is in this mood there are few better players in white-ball cricket.
Kock hits good balls to parts of the ground that sometimes don't make sense,
but he can do that because he picks up length so quickly.
a result, he manipulates fields, and his natural aggression means that the
longer he bats for, the more the game gets away from the opposition.
Africa's bowling, and particularly their fast bowling, is considered their
major strength with Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi expected to lead
When one factors in the class of
spinner Imran Tahir, then Proteas supporters can feel largely comfortable about
their ability to curtail opposing batting line-ups.
It is in the batting department,
though, where there have been some understandable concerns.
Amla is out of form and out of
the squad currently because of personal reasons, Markram can't convert his
starts into scores of substance, Hendricks' form has also dipped while JP
Duminy has only just returned to the side after a lengthy injury.
Rassie van der Dussen looks the
part but, with just 8 ODIs to his name, is very green at international
Skipper Faf du Plessis is the one
banker in the middle order right now and is in seriously good touch. His shifting
of gears depending on the game situation will be crucial.
Kock, though, is in a different class.
It will obviously take a huge
team effort if the Proteas get all the way through to the final on July 14, but
in De Kock they have a special individual who can win games by himself on his
He is a once-in-a-generation
player and, in every way, South Africa's answer to Virat Kohli.
If De Kock clicks, then the
Proteas will be a very difficult side to tie down.
There is a slight concern over a
finger injury that has seen him hand the wicketkeeping duties to David Miller
during the last two ODIs, but it seems nothing more than precautionary.
The Proteas are unlikely to take
a back-up wicketkeeper to the World Cup, and if De Kock does get injured during
the tournament then they will need somebody else to step up and take the
De Kock would be picked as a
batsman if he had one leg, and because of that the Proteas will never be able
to swap him out of the squad for a replacement wicketkeeper if his finger
injury got worse during the competition.
Miller, based on what we have
seen, is a competent enough stop-gap should it get to that.
Injured or not, or keeping or
not, De Kock holds the key to South Africa being able to set and chase sizeable
totals in England.
In 105 ODIs, he has
gone past 50, 35 times.
De Kock raises his bat once every
three innings, and if he does that in the games that matter most later this
year, then the Proteas will have taken a significant step towards breaking
their World Cup drought.