Smith unfazed about De Kock issue

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Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith was asked under how much pressure he was with Quinton de Kocks recent performances. Photo by: Duif du Toit

The question was somewhat inevitable. He who is the flavour of the month in South African cricket was certainly going to get a mention.

The question to Graeme Smith at the Tuesday pre-match press conference ahead of the first Test went as follows: “With Quinton performing so well in the ODI series, how much pressure is there on you as a batsman?”

Smith didn’t take too long to respond, and reminded members of the fourth estate that he’d had “big surgery eight months ago”, had only played a handful of matches since that surgery, and that his goal was just to get back and play some cricket.

“In my last Test I got a double hundred.”

Smith, as he also mentioned, is under no more pressure than usual, though currently it’s not his spot in the Test side that Quinton de Kock is pushing for.

The ODIs are another matter, and as South Africa don’t have an ODI to play for another seven months, it’s not an issue for the selection panel and Russell Domingo to deal with now.

That issue is: What do they now do with Smith? Is he still part of the one-day plans and is he still a candidate for the World Cup? If so, how does he get a chance to prove his credentials?

It most certainly needs resolution, and the sooner the better. De Kock has been the star turn in South African cricket these past few weeks, and has cemented his spot in the ODI side with some thrilling displays against Pakistan and especially India. In the few opportunities Smith’s had since his surgery, his returns have been poor, and with just 13 matches to go before the World Cup, there’s not a lot of time left for him to show that he deserves to go to Australasia.

De Kock’s Test future does not involve endangering Smith’s spot. Instead it is the likes of Faf du Plessis who should be looking over his shoulder. However, Smith hinted at another avenue De Kock may take to get into the Test side.

Discussing the merits of selecting seven batsmen – something he believes has given the South African team an ‘X-factor’ in recent years, Smith said: “In time when Jacques (Kallis) decides to call it a day, it offers us a chance to look at that (no.7) role and see how we use it best to benefit us.”

Given his current form, you would think De Kock would be an obvious choice to slot into that position.

De Kock, of course, needs to continue piling on the runs in the four-day competition, and produce improved displays as a wicketkeeper. - The Star

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