Cape Town – The
Ram Slam T20 Challenge final later on Saturday (18:00) at SuperSport Park
offers a last opportunity for the one misfiring Proteas favourite in the
Titans’ ranks to get among the runs ahead of the fast-approaching busy Test
phase for South Africa.
Kock is the unusual case in point.
various international colleagues – whether Test or limited-overs specialists or
both -- have played often pivotal roles in the home franchise’s near-effortless
march to the showpiece.
Behardien, AB de Villiers and Aiden Markram have been consistently dominant
with the blade, all averaging well above 50 – Behardien, in fact, has only been
dismissed once en route to 230 runs in six innings.
bowling front, left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has been in imperious,
tournament-leading form with 16 wickets, whilst legendary fast bowler Dale
Steyn has made a deliberately filtered comeback from his serious shoulder
injury and shown encouraging new promise for the most part.
So De Kock,
in many senses, has been a strangely jarring exception during this tournament.
desperately seldom, especially during a Proteas career that now spans some five
years, for the crowd-pleasing left-handed batsman and acrobatic wicketkeeper to
be notably out of the frontline action.
someone already averaging in the mid-forties in both Tests and ODIs, only
bearing out how much of a consistent, forceful figure he has become for his
baby-faced “assassin” turns 25 on Sunday, so coming to the fore in the final
against the Dolphins would not only be a fitting early gift to himself, but
also dish out a fresh reminder of his amazing, broad cricketing capabilities as
the once-off four-day Test against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth from Boxing Day
draws much closer.
So far in the
T20 Challenge, he has had a wretched time of it statistically at the crease,
managing a less than grand sum of 79 runs from seven turns at the crease at an
average of 11.28.
those knocks have been especially short-lived, single-figure ones, including
another flop in the semi-final against the Warriors on Wednesday where seamer Andrew
Birch dismissed him for a three-ball score of one.
best effort has been 39 against his former Lions franchise – a long way off his
domestic record-breaking T20 best of 126 not out against the Cape Cobras a few
too, he didn’t wear the ‘keeping gloves in the semi; last-ditch replacement
Heinrich Klaasen – for the injured Henry Davids – instead performed that role.
is seemingly not considered officially “crocked” on that front, it has been
noticeable for several matches now that the Proteas gloveman has been taking
some demonstrably painful blows to the hands/fingers – a phenomenon that began
during the all-formats home series against Bangladesh.
Is it just
possible that an element of discomfort as wicketkeeper is impeding him in an
performance from De Kock in the final would go a long way to dispelling any
fears on that front, although it will be interesting to see whether Klaasen (in
the preannounced match-day squad) gets a gig again at SuperSport Park and also
goes behind the stumps.
Of course it
is foolhardy to place too much weight in T20 figures as a gauge of a player’s
well-being; it is the format where luck – good and bad – plays an indisputably
strong role and there are periods when the best of stroke-players will
inconveniently “pick out catchers” and the like.
Kock has simply been doing that to an unaccustomed degree.
T20 Challenge, too, he had made a blistering start to his home international
season, even if it was against a comprehensively walloped, often popgun
scores included a 59 in a T20 international, and successive ODI innings of 168
not out (Kimberley), 46 (Paarl) and 73 (East London).
temporary domestic trough for this true X-factor player?
chance, really …
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