Cape Town - Understandably in his earliest
days as an international cricketer, learned critics were reluctant to compare
Quinton de Kock too hastily to Australian legend and
fellow-batsman/wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
After all, how many ultimately ill-judged,
crazily premature instances of “next Bradman”, for instance, have there been?
But as the prodigiously talented,
24-year-old De Kock completed his third Test century (101) at Newlands on
Tuesday, the second morning of the second Test against Sri Lanka, the
statistical match-up with Gilchrist, now 45 and quite long-retired, seems
increasingly intriguing and pertinent.
Naturally De Kock has an awfully long way
to go before he can match the full statistical weight of “Gilly”, even if he
also has plenty of time on his side if that is ever to occur. (Don’t whisper it
too loudly, but might he even eclipse him?)
Gilchrist ended his roughly 12-year
international career in March 2008 sporting 5 570 Test runs at an average of
47.60 and strike rate of 81.95, and with 9 619 one-day international runs (from
a formidable 287 games) at 35.89; strike rate 96.94.
So the baby-faced, uncomplicated De Kock,
for the next several years, is still going to have to go some, as they say.
But he also seems so much more than just
“up and running” in the race, doesn’t he?
On day one of the current Test,
Johannesburg-born De Kock completed the landmark of 1,000 personal runs in the
format, fifth fastest South African to hit the figure, and on Tuesday he duly
strode on, in typically swift and free-spirited style, from an unbeaten 68
overnight to his third ton in his 15th Test.
That took him to 1 060 runs, upon
dismissal, at 53.00, and it was irresistible to glance at where the great
Gilchrist stood after 15 Tests (bearing in mind that in-form De Kock may still
have a second knock at Newlands).
They are not far apart at all, with the
former showing a better average, and the latter more runs: at that 15-Test juncture
in his five-day career, Gilchrist had amassed 992 runs at 58.35, with one less
century (two) than De Kock has bagged.
In each case, No 7 has been the
overwhelmingly regular stationing in the order, and ditto opening spots in the
Speaking of the other major format, De Kock
has played 69 ODIs as things stand, with 2 850 runs at 43.84 and a smouldering
strike rate of 94.55 which pushes Gilchrist’s own figure hard.
He has compiled a particularly impressive
11 centuries and eight half-tons; after as many ODIs, Gilchrist showed fewer
than half that tally of three-figure scores (five), though the same number of
half-centuries as the South African.
Which of the pair ends up looking the
premier international cricketer, statistically speaking, remains to be seen,
and ought not to be apparent for many years yet until De Kock eventually calls
time on his currently only booming career.
What we already know is that they appear an
increasingly worthy match-up for talent, thrill factor and instinctively
effervescent attitude to the game …
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing