De Kock opening should not be an option

2016-11-10 08:57
Stephen Cook (Getty)

Cape Town - It was hard to find any negatives in the Proteas' performance in the first Test against Australia at the WACA, but in true South African sporting spirit, we gave it a go anyway. 

The major casualty was opener Stephen Cook, who battled his way through the contest to post scores of 0 and 12. 

That followed a lean run in the warm-ups, where he went 5, 12 and 0. 

It's safe to say that the 33-year-old Lions stalwart is not in his finest form. 

Hashim Amla (0 and 1) also had a horrible Test, but he is Hashim Amla. 

Cook is all of a sudden under a bit of pressure for his place. It seems absurd, given that he has played just four Tests.

His story, in case you have forgotten, was somewhat of a fairy-tale. 

Drafted into the side for the final Test of last summer's England series for the misfiring Stiaan van Zyl, Cook was an instant success as he made a century in his debut innings. 

He has one 50 to his name since then, which came against New Zealand in August, and he averages just over 33 from his 7 knocks so far. 

The nature of Cook's inclusion against England suggested that he was not going to provide a long-term solution to the opening problem, and now his form has raised just a few doubts over his current place in the side. 

That conversation prompted Kevin Pietersen to suggest that he would like to see Quinton de Kock moved to the top of the order in Test cricket. 'KP' isn't the only one. 

De Kock is so full of talent and so overwhelmingly exciting that he is an attractive option. 

He already does the new ball business in both shorter formats of the game and his form suggests that there are few on the planet more destructive. 

You would think that, more often than not, the Proteas would be off to a positive start under De Kock. 

And while that may be true, it is not necessarily wise. 

De Kock, in addition to being one of South Africa's most valuable batsmen, is also the wicket-keeper and that fact alone should rule him out of the opening berth. 

There are those who have done it before, but in the current climate of saturated cricket international sides need to manage the longevity of their best players carefully. 

There are few, if any, more valuable than De Kock for South Africa and they need to effectively wrap him in cotton wool to ensure they get the most out of him over the next decade. 

Imagine a scenario where the Proteas have been in the field for a day-and-a-half and then De Kock has to change the pads and head out to do the business with the bat. 

That is surely a situation South Africa would want to avoid, for both mental and physical reasons. 

There is no doubt that De Kock could open the batting, but the only way that should happen is if there is another specialist 'keeper.

So, if Cook was to be dropped then the selectors could bring in Dane Vilas to be at No 7 while De Kock moved to the top of the order. 

That is what Pietersen was suggesting, but for now backing Cook seems the more mature thing to do. 

There is also Rilee Rossouw waiting in the wings, and I fancy that he would be next in line anyway should Cook lose his place. 

A certain comfort accompanies the decision to bat De Kock at No 7. Knowing that you have a player of such quality and in that form coming in after the specialist batsmen is as much of a boost to the Proteas as it is a blow to the opposition. 

It can't be fun busting your butt off for five wickets knowing that De Kock still has to come in - a player who can undo all of your hard work in no time at all. 

He is giving off serious Adam Gilchrist vibes at the moment, and that is probably not worth messing with. 

As for Cook, he should be backed. But he will know more than anyone that he doesn't have long. Rossouw and others are dying for a chance. 

Read more on:    proteas  |  stephen cook  |  quinton de kock  |  cricket


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