Lost: De Kock’s genius. Reward offered for its safe return
● “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.” Arthur Schopenhauer, the 19th century German philosopher who said that, didn’t pay heed to frivolities like cricket.
But it’s a pity he’s no longer around: Quinton de Kock could use that kind of thinking, especially in the apparent absence of anything constructive being done to haul him out of the depths of the deepest slump he has known since being capped at international level more than six years ago.
Good thing this is a column, because that opinion isn’t supported by the facts.
De Kock has gone 17 completed innings, whatever the format and level of cricket, without scoring 50, and 20 without making a century.
Nine of those trips to the crease without breaking 50 and a dozen without a hundred have been for South Africa.
Sounds serious, but it took him 13 innings at the start of his international career to celebrate a half-century, and he has had other 50-less slumps of nine and 10 innings each.
He has known stretches of 16, 18, 22 and 25 completed innings for South
Africa without scoring a century, although during the latter he was thrice in the 90s.
So, by the numbers, there is nothing especially alarming about De Kock’s dawdle into the doldrums.
The numbers be damned. De Kock hasn’t hit the unhittable for months, much less seen the unseen. He has become a target caught in the headlights, a shell of the player he is, was and will be again, a shadow of his genius.
And let no one doubt that we are dealing with genius.
Not only is the way the on-form De Kock hits a cricket ball inexplicable by the likes of us, it’s a mystery to the man himself.
He sees it. He hits it. It stays hit. He shrugs.
Problem is, no one can do what geniuses do. And no one can realign them when something about that thing they do goes squiff.
That that has happened to De Kock is plain from his wonky balance, faulty shot selection, and movements that are as stiff as a railway sleeper. And that’s just what’s obvious from the distance of the press box, where genius doesn’t dwell.
Confirmation of De Kock’s current frailty came at Kingsmead last Thursday, when he was adjudged leg-before to Yuzvendra Chahal, India’s wonderfully plucky legspinner, to a delivery that clearly was going to miss the lefthander’s leg stump.
Immediately he was struck, De Kock spun on his heel and began a sad shamble back to the dressing room. He didn’t wait for the umpire to reveal his decision. He didn’t review. He didn’t even look up.
It was the action of a player who has lost his awareness of self, which is more critical than knowing where your off stump is. Right now, on the evidence of Kingsmead, De Kock doesn’t even know where his leg stump is.
No joy is taken in writing these words, because players like De Kock — who do great things without falling victim to their egos — are hard to find and thus cherished by us in the scribbling classes.
Get well soon, Quinton. You will see the unseeable again.
The way De Kock hits a cricket ball is a mystery to the man himself