On cue, ex­cep­tional tal­ent De Kock’s rak­ing in runs

Praise for rookie opener from Amla af­ter run-glut against In­dia

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - LUN­GANI ZAMA GOLF HOCKEY

IF THERE was any lin­ger­ing doubt about Quin­ton de Kock’s unique abil­ity with the bat, it has been shat­tered – along with the In­dian at­tack over the past fort­night.

Like any pre­co­cious tal­ent is wont to do, the left-handed opener has started to pro­duce shots that sim­ply take the breath away – as much for their end re­sult as their cheeky bril­liance.

One of his trade­marks is the non­cha­lant flick through mid­wicket to length balls that are pitched around off-stump – in stead of hit­ting it con­ven­tion­ally to mid- off, or cover per­haps.

It is some­thing ap­proach­ing Kevin Pi­etersen’s “flamingo shot”, and In­dia’s pace­men have been left scratch­ing their heads, as per­fectly rea­son­able balls dis­ap­pear to the fence in a hurry.

As the runs have flowed, De Kock’s nat­u­ral flair has come to the fore. Spin with the new ball used to be his Achilles heel, as he used to grope at it anx­iously, ea­ger to feel the com­fort of bat on ball.

As soon as the slightly-built up­start started to look com­fort­able against pace on his first tour in July, Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandi­mal would sum­mon one of his tweak­ers, and the brakes were rapidly ap­plied, and then the exit fol­lowed.

It is a mea­sure of his star­tling progress in the lat­ter part of this year that De Kock is now un­recog­nis­able from that bright- eyed young­ster who toiled in Sri Lanka. Spin seems to hold few de­mons for him now, re­gard­less of when he con­fronts it.

Even the chirps have qui­etened down around him. There was a stage when Pak­istan would have five or six field­ers sur­round­ing him af­ter ev­ery ball, try­ing to in­tim­i­date him early on. Those field­ers have spread to­wards the fence now, though, and De Kock – pre­vi­ously too shy to bark or­ders at sea­soned stars – has found his own voice, ca­jol­ing his field­ers and ex­press­ing ideas to the cap­tain.

Over thep­ast two weeks, even while the coun­try has been plunged into mourn­ing, the 20-year-old has pro­vided that ray of sun­shine that can only come from youth­ful prom­ise. Three times he has met the world’s best side. Three times he has raised his bat to ac­knowl­edge a cen­tury.

“I’ve just been blown away by his calm­ness at the crease. Guys like AB (de Vil­liers) will bear this out, but he also has a very good cricket brain, and he isn’t shy to change the field if he sees some­thing. He’s just a mas­sive tal­ent, but we ob­vi­ously don’t want to put too much pres­sure on him. “

High praise in­deed, es­pe­cially when it comes from the

“I’ve just been blown away by his calm­ness at the crease. Guys like AB (De Vil­liers) will bear this out, but he also has a very good cricket brain, and he isn’t shy to change the field if he sees some­thing.”

man re­garded as the world’s best bats­man, Hashim Amla.

“I’m just happy to stand at the other end and watch him blast away,” he added.

But there is a lot more to De Kock than just brute force. The third of his tril­ogy of tons was scored un­der some se­ri­ous pres­sure, with the Proteas hav­ing slipped to 28 for three at Cen­tu­rion. He reined him­self in, and showed that he also has a healthy ap­petite for a scrap.

And it’s not just on the field that De Kock has shown a will­ing­ness to get stuck in.

At Kingsmead re­cently, he stayed be­hind af­ter prac­tice, pun­ish­ing him­self in a fit­ness ses­sion in the com­pany of David Miller.

“Jeez, it’s hard work hey,” he puffed, in his easy-go­ing style. “Be­lieve it or not, I’ve al­ready lost like 10 ki­los since Sri Lanka. This is all mus­cle, china,” he chuck­led this week.

Miller, one of the side’s gen­uine fit­ness freaks, laughed him away, but in pri­vate Miller ad­mits to be­ing hugely im­pressed by how keen De Kock is to work on any per­ceived weak­nesses. When the for­mer ju­nior ace was first touted as a fu­ture Protea, his work ethic was ques­tioned.

Miller, though, only knows De Kock the an­i­mal.

“He al­ways wants to do a few ex­tra shut­tles, and he wants to push hard, too. It’s awe­some to have his en­ergy around the squad, and it’s quite nice not to be the young­ster in the change-room any­more.”

On Wed­nes­day De Kock joined a might­ily im­pres­sive club of bats­men who have notched three suc­ces­sive ODI cen­turies, and the next time he pads up in a 50-over in­ter­na­tional, it will be against the might of Aus­tralia.

Al­ready, some are call­ing for him to be in­volved in the Test matches, too. While those sen­ti­ments are well-mean­ing, they are also slightly pre­ma­ture.

To play as a Test wick­et­keeper, De Kock still has a few creases to iron out.

He is mak­ing steady im­prove­ment as it is, but he ad­mits that keep­ing in a Test is a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish al­to­gether. For one thing, he will have to prise the Li­ons’ four­day gloves off Thami Tsolek­ile, who has Test am­bi­tions of his own.

That in­ter­nal tus­sle will only in­ten­sify at the Li­ons, and Ge­of­frey Toy­ana will have to em­ploy ev­ery bit of diplo­macy he pos­sesses to keep ev­ery­one sat­is­fied. As the runs mount from De Kock, there is a yearn- ing to see more of him.

Like­wise, Tsolek­ile be­comes ever more anx­ious to press for in­ter­na­tional hon­ours, as his own win­dow of op­por­tu­nity closes ever slightly with each, pass­ing De Kock mas­ter-class.

What we can­not deny is that De Kock will one day be a cru­cial part of South Africa’s plans, in all three forms of the game.

He is a mighty tal­ent, and Rus­sell Domingo de­serves praise for the way he backed the young­ster to come good, even when the wheels were

Falls: 1-74, 2-75, 3-85, 4-94, 5-117, 6146, 7-147, 8-148 , 9-175, 10-175

Bowl­ing: Boult 12.5-2-40-4, Southee 11-224-3, Wag­ner 17-2-67-2 (1nb), An­der­son 111-29-1 (1w), Wil­liamson 3-1-9-0

New Zealand won by an in­nings and 73 runs The Ashes - Aus­tralia v Eng­land Third Test, Perth - Day 1 Aus­tralia First In­nings: Chris Rogers run out (An­der­son) . . . . . . . . 11 David Warner c Car­berry b Swann . . . . . . .60 Shane Wat­son c Swann b Broad . . . . . . . .18 Michael Clarke c Cook b Swann . . . . . . . .24 Steve Smith not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103 Ge­orge Bai­ley c Pi­etersen b Broad . . . . . . . . 7 Brad Haddin c An­der­son b Stokes . . . . . . .55 Mitchell John­son not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Ex­tras (5lb, 3w, 1nb) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 To­tal (for six; 87 overs) . . . . . . . . . . .326 Falls: 1-13, 2-52, 3-106, 4-129, 5-143, 6267

Bowl­ing: An­der­son 17-4-44-0 (1w), Broad 17-1-78-2 (1w), Bres­nan 21-4-72-0, Stokes 14-2-52-1 (1nb, 1w), Swann 17-0-71-2, Root 1-0-4-0 South African In­vi­ta­tional XI v In­dia Two-day tour match, Benoni - Day 1

Match aban­doned due to a wet out­field The Sun­foil Se­ries - Day 3 of 4 Dol­phins v Ti­tans, Kingsmead

Match aban­doned with­out a ball be­ing bowled

Both teams awarded five points Sun­shine Tour: Nel­son Man­dela Cham­pi­onship, Dur­ban Lat­est score on Fri­day evening (RSA un­less spec­i­fied): -11 - Jorge Campillo (ESP) 70 59, Matthew Bald­win (ENG) 67 62 -10 - Oliver Bekker 64 66, Bran­den Grace 64 66 -6 - Michael Hoey (NIR) 65 69 -5 - Adil­son Da Silva (BRA) 67 68 -4 - Oliver Fisher (ENG) 70 66, Colin Nel 77 59, Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 69 67, Keith Horne 69 67, wob­bling in Sri Lanka.

The Proteas coach in­sisted that all De Kock needed was time, to find his feet at this level, and then he would show what a tal­ent he was.

But surely, even he didn’t en­vis­age it would go quite as swim­mingly.

As keeper-bats­man, De Kock is al­ready punch­ing above the nor­mal ex­pec­ta­tions of a new­comer, mak­ing key de­ci­sions and weigh­ing in with big runs. But he wouldn’t want it any other way. He’d far rather be in Byeong-hun An (KOR) 67 69, Dar­ren Fichardt 66 70 -3 - Oliver Wil­son (ENG) 70 67 -2 - Dun­can Stewart (SCO) 68 70, Matthew Nixon (ENG) 69 69, An­drew McArthur (SCO) 66 72, Scott Jamieson (SCO) 73 65, Soren Hansen (DEN) 71 67 -1 - Nik­las Lemke (SWE) 73 66, Thomas Pi­eters (BEL) 73 66, Si­mon Wake­field ( ENG) 70 69, Chris­ti­aan Bas­son 68 71, Alex Haindl 68 71, Jaco Van Zyl 74 65, Garth Mul­roy 69 70, Robert Rock (ENG) 72 67, Pablo Martin Be­na­vides (ESP) 70 69, Lee Slat­tery (ENG) 73 66 Par - PH McIn­tyre 70 70, Adrian Otaegui (ESP) 67 73, Edoardo Moli­nari (ITA) 71 69, Peter Hed­blom (SWE) 70 70, Peter White­ford(SCO) 70 70, Richard Finch (ENG) 71 69, Fabrizio Zan­otti (PAR) 70 70 +1 - JJ Senekal 74 67, Michael Hol­lick 73 68, Jared Har­vey 71 70, Shaun Nor­ris 71 70 +2 - Os­car Stark (SWE) 73 69, Thris­ton Lawrence (AMA) 72 70, Brin­son Paolini (USA) 76 66, An­thony Michael 71 71, An­drew Curlewis 74 68 +3 - Jack Do­herty (SCO) 74 69, Al­lan Vers­feld 72 71, Thomas Nor­ret (DEN) 73 70, Jamie McLeary (SCO) 69 74, Justin Wal­ters 72 71, Louis de Jager 73 70 +4 - Kevin Phe­lan (IRL) 74 70, An­dreas Harto (DEN) 72 72, Mathias Gron­berg (SWE) 73 71 +5 - Gra­ham van der Merwe 71 74, Danie van Ton­der 72 73, Bernd Rit­tham­mer (GER) 77 68 +6 - Ryan Tip­ping 71 75 +7 - Bran­don Pi­eters 79 68, Scott Henry (SCO) 72 75 +8 - Makgetha Maz­ibuko 72 76, Drikus Bruyns 71 77 +9 - Riekus Nortje 78 71, Ty­rone Mordt 74 75, Daniel Greene 78 71 +10 - JG Claassen 76 74, Steven Ti­ley (ENG) 80 70, Sam Walker (ENG) 79 71 +11 - Joshua Cun­liffe 78 73, Ben Evans (ENG) 73 78, Do­minic Foos (GER) (AMA) 79 72 +19 - Mark Wil­liams 78 81 Thai­land Cham­pi­onship, Hong Kong Sec­ond round (Thai­land un­less stated, par 72) 64 – Alex Ce­jka (Ger) 65 – Justin Rose (Eng), Arnond Vong­vanij 66 – Ga­gan­jeet Bhullar (Ind) 67 – Daniel Cho­pra (Swe), Su­j­jan Singh (Ind) 68 - Charl Schwartzel (SA), Ser­gio Gar­cia (SpaA), Mar­dan Ma­mat (Sin) Ki­radech Aphibarn­rat , An­gelo Que (Phi), Masahiro Kawa­mura (Jpn) the thick of things, thrust in the deep end. “I just want to bat, and make runs. I don’t mind pres­sure, be­cause I know there are a lot of great play­ers com­ing be­hind me.”

It’s a fair enough as­sess­ment, and that se­cu­rity has al­lowed him the free­dom of ex­pres­sion that has seen him run riot re­cently. And all this be­fore his 21st birth­day on Tues­day.

Al­ready thrilled by De Kock the boy, South African au­di­ences will be ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the grown-up ver­sion. 69 – Mar­cus Fraser (Aus), Tham­manon Sriroj 70 – Elias Bertheussen (Nor), An­to­nio Las­cuna (Phi), Rickie Fowler (US), Hen­rik Sten­son (Se), Bubba Wat­son (US), Alexan­der Levy (Fra), Nam­chok Tan­tipokhakul 71 – Thongchai Jaidee, Hunter Ma­han (US), Pawin Ingkhapra­dit, Mars Pu­cay (Phi), Panuphol Pit­ta­yarat, Wade Ormsby (Aus), Mar­cus Both (Aus), C Mun­niyappa (Ind), Prom Mee­sawat, Jaakko Mak­i­talo (Fin), Lionel We­ber (Fra), Steve Lew­ton (Eng), Anir­bahn Lahiri (Ind), Ja­son Knut­son (US), Chawalit Plaphol, Mithun Perera (Sri), Hung Chienyao (Tpe) Se­lected scores 73 – John Daly (US) 74 – Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) Women’s club com­pe­ti­tions Hermanus, Sta­ble­ford: Sil­ver, E Nykamp 34. Bronze, L Cartwright 43, L McIn­tosch 38, M Stadler 36, C Brown­lee 36 Mil­ner­ton, Sta­ble­ford: Y Kuhn 38, L Hegie 37, J Elves 33 King David, Club Cham­pi­onship: Sil­ver, T Copelowitz 178, N Lough­nane 179. Bronze, P Mar­cow 186, J Ra­bie 201. Best Nett: P Mar­cow 142 Mow­bray, WP Se­niors, Al­liance: C Mor­timer, C Smales, T Al­had­eff & P Dreyer 94; P Grif­fiths, A Ed­wards, J McDon­ald & J Withey 94; R Falkengerg, G van Heukel­hum, A Kennedy & P van Rhyn 92; A Lloyd, M God­frey, C Stocks & I Nel 91; M Guil­foyle, S Domisse, S Rawl­ins & R Wal­lace 90 Steen­berg, Al­liance: T Vi­etri, V Spargo, P Copas & I Figl 120; S de Vil­liers, L Wal­ton, C Ehrmann & M Bos 120; L Kowen, G Ortlepp, L Stuar & S Grace 113; S Kut­tel, B Rowan, A Lloyd & H Bartholomew 111 Men’s Sec­ond Test, Hill­crest South Africa . . . . . 0 Ar­gentina . . . . . . . . .1 Ar­gentina leads five-match Test se­ries 2-0 To­day: Third Test: South Africa v Ar­gentina, 3pm Men’s Ju­nior World Cup, Delhi 9-12th place play-off South Africa U21 .0

Pak­istan U21 . . . . . . . 4

AP PHOTO

FULL OF RUNS: Proteas opener Quin­ton de Kock has hit a rich vein of form, scor­ing three cen­turies in his last three ODIs.

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