Cape Town – His statistical record against Australia does
little to suggest he will be a trump card for South Africa in the
fast-approaching bilateral one-day international series.
But stats can be deceptive, if not automatically dismissible
as damned lies, and plenty of signs still point to Quinton de Kock having a
crucial role in the Proteas’ quest to topple the top-ranked Aussies over the
course of the five contests, starting at Centurion on Friday (13:30).
The onus on the baby-faced left-hander will only increase
if, on Tuesday, captain and swashbuckling stroke-player AB de Villiers fails
his fitness examination and is side-lined by surgical requirements for several
Minus De Villiers, the younger De Kock would quickly become
the primary “kaboom” batsman, if you like, in the Proteas’ ranks for this
Against opponents who bat with a special audacity and
enterprise when on song, South Africa ideally need both De Villiers and De
Kock’s extrovert hallmarks at the crease, supplementing the more measured
accumulation of the marvellous Hashim Amla, if they are to emerge the series
But if the Johannesburg-born 23-year-old is suddenly
installed as the major source of fast-scoring hope against the Aussies, at
least his early-season form indicates that he is suitably in the groove to
provide that service.
Apart from registering 82 and 50 as a hastily-installed
opener in a late August Test match against New Zealand, De Kock will enter the
series straight off an encouragingly fluent, crisp innings of 82 and opening
partnership of 159 with Temba Bavuma against Ireland in Benoni on Sunday.
That only confirmed his liking for Highveld surfaces, and
given that the Oz combat begins at SuperSport Park and then the Wanderers
(Sunday), De Kock could be even more instrumental in the quest to get the host
nation off to an important, noses-in-front start.
From four personal ODIs thus far at the first-named ground,
De Kock averages 63.75, whilst two at the Bullring see him average 81.00.
After 64 matches in total, De Kock boasts an average in
South Africa of 57.00, well more than his overall average in the format of
So as far as prolifically entertaining the home public is
concerned, he is actually in front of De Villiers, who averages 53.63 in SA
conditions, albeit after many more matches in an ODI career which features 206
appearances across the planet.
He will also tackle Australia as the only frontline Proteas
batsman – with De Villiers, if he plays – to sport a strike rate above 90: his
is 91.20, as opposed to the skipper’s sublime 99.87.
De Kock is also pretty solidly entrenched now as the South
African limited-overs opener with most bums-on-seats appeal since a certain Herschelle
Gibbs exited stage left in 2010 after a seldom dull 15-year career.
The incumbent is also on course at this stage to better
Gibbs’ numbers (8,094 runs at 36.13, 248 games) in one-day internationals – for
example, he got to 2,000 ODI runs in his 53rd match, whereas Gibbs
As Bavuma said admiringly of his partner when he collected
his man-of-the-match award for his encouraging century against the Irish:
“Quinton will make any wicket (in ODIs) look flat.”
Still, De Kock does have a bit of corrective work to do, if
you like, against Australia in particular.
He has encountered them 11 times in ODIs, and mostly had a
lean time of it from a batting point of view: 246 runs at 24.60.
He has only gone beyond the 50-mark once against them,
albeit that that was a century (107) in Sydney in 2014.
Considering that he has so tormented other major nations
like England (average 81.50) and India (74.11), his record against the Aussies
stands in rather stark, disappointing contrast.
There again, however, the figures overlook one noteworthy
thing: he is yet to tackle the men from Down Under even once on a South African
surface. Instead appearances up to now have been in locations as diverse and
far-flung as Canberra, Harare and Providence.
So an inviting chance looms large to remedy things rather
I wouldn’t bet against him getting stuck in fairly
meaningfully against a raw, new-look Australian attack …
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