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28 June 2016 15:20 (South Africa)
Sport

SA vs ENG, 3rd ODI: QDK reignites the Proteas

  • Antoinette Muller
    still-a-boy copy.jpg
    Antoinette Muller

    Antoinette thinks of the world and the people who live in it as a bear with a sore paw. She has a stick covered in thorns and she’s poking the bear. When she’s not doing that, she’s watching cricket and longing for the days of the boring, boring Arsenal.

  • Sport
Photo:South Africa's Quinton de Kock celebrates his century during the first ODI cricket match against England in Bloemfontein, South Africa, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa fought back in their five-match ODI series against England. They claimed a dominant seven wicket win in Centurion to claw their way back to 1-2 in the series. With Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, South Africa played like the team everyone knows and loves. The first foundation block has been laid to restore confidence. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

Unbiased as journalists supposedly are, there’s always a collective sigh when Quinton de Kock does well and they know he’s going to be the one that comes to the press conference. You see, De Kock doesn’t like to talk about cricket. If he had a choice, he would rather talk about fishing. Getting anything worthy of copy from him is like forcing Jacob Zuma to pay back the money.

So, when De Kock has a night like he did on Tuesday in Centurion, you best forget the quotes and just sit back and be awed by the enigma that is this young man. And boy, did he inspire awe.

He scored his 10th one-day hundred and became the youngest and, by doing so, fastest to that landmark. His conversation rate remains astounding, having failed on just five occasions to make a century or more when he has scored a 50.

He can pile on the runs around the ground, but preferred the leg-side on Tuesday runs scoring 84 off just 38 balls in this area.

De Kock’s eventual dismissal on 135 off 117 was so typical of him, wearily lobbing spinner Adil Rashid to cover. He was visibly irked with himself when he got out, possibly wondering either how he could have possibly done something so daft or completely miserable because there was a fielder placed in the area where likes to score.

By the time De Kock's wicket fell, though, South Africa were well in control, cruising at 239 for one and, in that situation, they tried to do something unusual. Instead of sending regular number three, Faf du Plessis or AB de Villiers to the crease, they opted for David Wiese. Wiese, included in place of Rilee Rossouw to fill the role of "all-rounder" didn't do much. He lasted four balls before deciding that a reverse sweep against Moeen Ali's spin would be wise and was sent on his way.

This kind of unusual thinking from Wiese might have been something he had caught from the team selection. With the fifth bowler an issue, instead of dropping one of either JP Duminy or Farhaan Behardien, players some critics refer to as "bits and pieces players", they opted to drop a batsman. Instead of bringing in Chris Morris, they opted for Wiese. The result was that the fifth bowlers till conceded over 60 runs, just like the two part-timers had before. England took full advantage with Joe Root in particularly delightful form score 135 off 113 and helping England to 318 after they won the toss and elected to bat first.

When South Africa walked off the field for the dinner break, they would have felt just slightly intimidated. A total of 300 or more had never successfully been chased in a day-night international in Centurion.

Luckily for them, their openers had other ideas and managed to click together for the first time in this series. At one stage, De Kock and Hashim Amla had scored 56 runs in just five overs. Their 239-run stand was the highest since the 2015 World Cup when Amla and Du Plessis combined for 247 against Ireland. For Amla, who had not passed 50 in ODIs since August 2015, the 127 would have been a relief. For De Kock, this has become expected. He had hit a brilliantly entertaining century in Bloemfontein in the first ODI and looked determined to single-handedly take South Africa to victory before rain intervened and the Proteas lost as a result of the Duckworth-Lewis method.

He is only 23, but has already played over 50 ODIs. He has kept wicket in all but one of those matches and opened in all but three. To keep wicket for 50 overs and pad up without even blinking takes an exceptional kind of player and in his very short career, De Kock has proven that he is indeed an exceptional player. He averages 44.00 in the format and has a strike-rate of 92.59 and he does all of this with a cherub face that belies his ferocity.

De Kock is not one for faffing or fussing. Bad game? Get on with it. Bad form? Go back to the nets and sort it out. Make your coach throw downs until he begs you to stop. Good game? Nothing to see here, move along, nothing to celebrate, it’s just your job.

This seemingly nonplussed approach to sport and, indeed, life to an extent, is probably De Kock’s greatest strengths. He has had ups and downs in his career and he has had coaches doubting him. His Under-19 coach Ray Jennings was never quite convinced that his jib is cut out to be an international cricketer at senior level, but De Kock has done alright so far.

To stay at this level will take discipline, hard work and, talking about cricket quite a bit for De Kock, but he has time on his side to become the best player in the world. DM

Scores in brief:

South Africa won by seven wickets

England 318-8: Joe Root 125 (113), Ben Stokes 53 (37); Kyle Abbot 2-50, Kagiso Rabada 2-65

South Africa 319-3 after 46.2 overs: Quinton de Kock 135 (117), Hashim Amla 127 (130), Adil Rashid 1-45

Photo:South Africa's Quinton de Kock celebrates his century during the first ODI cricket match against England in Bloemfontein, South Africa, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

  • Antoinette Muller
    still-a-boy copy.jpg
    Antoinette Muller

    Antoinette thinks of the world and the people who live in it as a bear with a sore paw. She has a stick covered in thorns and she’s poking the bear. When she’s not doing that, she’s watching cricket and longing for the days of the boring, boring Arsenal.

  • Sport

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