Quinton de Kock: Time for Proteas’ prodigal son to become a man
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Paarl – Quinton de Kock has been coddled by Cricket South Africa and the Proteas ever since he arrived on the international scene as a generational talent.
And why not? As a teenager this kid showed the sort of ability and potential to become one of the all-time great wicket-keeper batsmen.
He started his time with the Proteas a ruthless opener in white-ball cricket, before coming into the Test side as a lower order player who could turn a game on its head in a session.
There aren’t many cricket players that make the game look simple; like it’s just an outing in the backyard with your siblings.
Quinton de Kock is one of those rare talents. A man who can flourish in various conditions and situations against the best bowlers in the world.
But the coddling and CSA’s over-protective nature towards De Kock has gone too far, in terms of his development as a cricketer and as a human being. It’s made him a selfish individual, who tends to first look out for himself before the interest of the team.
Withdrawing from the Proteas’ match against the West Indies because of not wanting to take a knee was selfish. Yes, CSA should have sorted out this matter long before a bat was swung in anger at this World Cup, but he left his teammates hanging.
Yet, was has transpired over the last few days is not the first example of De Kock putting himself first, and CSA and the Proteas just rolling over before giving the prodigal son what he wants.
Over the last few years De Kock has arguably been South Africa’s best batsman in all formats of the game.
But in Test cricket, especially, he has been reluctant to take over that mantel as the Proteas’ premier batsman in the team despite being the best player.
South Africa have been trying to fill that middle-order void left by the retirements of Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis. De Kock is the obvious choice to step up, because – dammit – he is that good.
But after a few outings in the middle he didn’t look the same player who comes and dominates when he comes in at No 7. He clearly didn’t want the responsibility of batting in that important No 4 and 5 spots.
He wants to bat at No 6, 7 where he can just “play the Quinton de Kock way”. Where he can shoot from the hip and not worry about the consequences.
Admittedly, De Kock’s record is fantastic in those positions, but you can’t help think that if he really wanted to, he can have the same sort of success as a Kumar Sungakkara, who gave up the gloves in Test cricket to become a force in the heart of Sri Lanka’s batting effort.
De Kock was also a reluctant captain, with his body language clear for all to see, especially in the Test arena. Again, not wanting to take responsibility.
De Kock isn’t a kid anymore. He needs to take more responsibility in this Proteas team and must become a person who puts the team first.
I sincerely hope that the outpouring of disappointment on social media when he dropped his teammates like he did is a massive wake-up call. It should have showed him that the South African cricket universe is bigger than ‘Planet Quinton de Kock’.
His emotional statement is hopefully the start of that journey for a player we all deeply admire, but sometimes begrudge that he isn’t taking his game to the level only reserved for the best in the game.
South Africa needs Quinton de Kock the batting superstar, and not Quinton de Kock the spoiled brat. Hopefully, we can put this latest debacle behind us and watch him help the Proteas achieve something special at this World Cup.