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Following a great One-Day International (ODI) series against India, many pushed for Quinton de Kock’s inclusion into the South African Test side. However, there is a camp that believes that it may be too early for the youngster to don the white flannels for his country. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines both sides of the debate.
Should South Africa have picked Quinton de Kock for the Test series against India? Many felt that his three consecutive One-Day International (ODI) tons should have given him a passage into the Test side. The youngster has been in fantastic form against the Indians and in normal circumstances, should have been picked for the Tests. However, there is also a section that believes he is too young and may need more experience in the longer format before donning the white flannels for his country.
De Kock has played only 18 First-Class matches till date in which he has scored 1504 runs at an average of 55.70 with four tons and eight fifties. Surely those stats are good enough to push him into the Test side given his talent and the form he is in. Many players have played Test cricket with lesser First-Class experience. One of the most recent prominent example is David Warner, who made his Test debut for Australia after playing only 11 games. So far, he has done well in Tests. So, why not de Kock? The difference is that de Kock is vying for a spot in a formidable South African unit that has dominated almost every team in recent times; Warner walked into a team searching for lost glory.
But, three consecutive ODI centuries is no mean feat for a 20-year-old. It does speak of immense talent and sound temperament. Fast-tracking him into the Test side may have reaped rewards as they could have groomed him a little earlier to get things going. Even AB de Villiers made his Test debut at the age of 20 and has turned out to be one of the best all-round batsmen in the world. De Kock could walk in the same footsteps now, but there are always fears at the back of the South African selectors’ minds.
The South African Test line-up has a solid batting line-up and is solid at the top. Graeme Smith, Alviro Peterson and Hashim Amla form a strong top three. Jacques Kallis walks in at No 4 and de Villiers bats at No 5. JP Duminy bats at No 6 and Faf du Plessis bats at No 7. They do have some issues with the No 6 and No 7 slots especially after Mark Boucher’s retirement. Once the gloveman walked into sunset, they had to accommodate one more batsman and de Villiers donned the gloves. Thami Tsolekile is an established stumper, but couldn’t make it into the side due to his batting. Both Duminy and du Plessis are gradually establishing themselves in the line-up.
Looking at this scenario, one would have felt that de Kock would have been an ideal foil lower down the order. It is also due to the fact that he can keep that makes his case stronger. As discussed in a previous article, his inclusion in the future would take a lot of the pressure off de Villiers as he would then take the gloves. As of now, de Villiers is putting his body on the line for the cause of the team. South Africa need him as a batsman and if the keeping duties are taken away, he can certainly concentrate on the stronger suit.
But, has de Kock kept enough at the domestic level? It is one thing to keep in the one-day game, but to perform the duties in Test cricket is more sapping and takes a lot out of the player. De Kock plays for the Lions, which is also Tsolekile’s team. Thus, keeping opportunities are hard to come by at the domestic level and he mainly plays as a batsman.
On the batting front, de Kock may have to temper his game a little bit to get into the Test mode. He is an attacking strokemaker and plays through the line with ease. However, he may not be allowed those chances in Test cricket and he has to get into a more circumspect approach. He does play crunchy shots outside the off-stump, but may have to tighten that area and work on leaving the ball as well.
It is clear that de Kock is one for the future and he will come into the Test side at some point in the future. The talent is obvious and there are only a few adjustments to be made to it. He may come in sooner or later; depends on the amount of runs he scores in domestic cricket and the berths available in the South African side.
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