Lost: De Kock’s ge­nius. Re­ward of­fered for its safe re­turn

Sunday Times - - Sport | Cricket - Telford Vice

● “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

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