JOHANNESBURG – Quinton de Kock’s not given to shows of extreme exuberance.
Dale Steyn can do a ‘chainsaw’ when he gets a wicket, Kagiso Rabada can let the batsman know he’s got him out. De Kock’s quieter. Except on Sunday, when he let the world know just how he felt about his fourth Test hundred.
There was a yelp of ‘YEEAAAHHH!!’ a big leap, a big fist pump and a hug from one of his closest mates, Rabada, who had earlier, inadvertently blocked a single that would have taken him from 99 to 100.
It’s been two years since a scoreboard in a Test match last flashed 100 next to De Kock’s name. Given his innocently blithe outlook it can appear that De Kock doesn’t think much of landmarks. However his celebration of his hundred on Sunday showed that he did. As did the way he showed his appreciation to the crowd after he was dismissed. This innings meant a lot to De Kock.
In the two years between Test hundreds, De Kock has still managed to produce crucial innings’ for the Proteas. There was the 91 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington against newland two years ago, an innings that delivered South Africa from a precarious position of 94/6, providing the foundation for a series clinching win.
There was a 68 in the first innings against England at Trent Bridge in 2017, a success, but part of a larger selection failure on the part of the Proteas then desperate to fill the hole at no.4 left by AB de Villiers’ absence.
His 83 in the Durban Test against Australia last year was forgotten in the wake the stairwell drama with David Warner, but it was a crucial innings in showing the tourists that South Africa could play dirty too.
In this series his 45 in the first innings of the first Test helped marshall the Proteas tail, getting the hosts a lead in that match.
It’s not as if he’s not added value with his bat. But it’s grated with him, that he hasn’t gotten three figures. He’s made seven half-centuries, and 13 single digit scores in 38 innings between the 101 he scored against Sri Lanka in the New Year’s Test at Newlands in 2017, and Sunday’s 129. Players with that kind of talent demand more of themselves, hence the frustration, and ultimately the boisterous celebration.
De Kock and Hashim Amla had shared a stand of 102 for the sixth wicket, it had started amidst a raucous atmosphere on Saturday evening, and concluded in front of a more subdued crowd Sunday morning.
Nevertheless the effect on the match has been profound. South Africa set Pakistan a target of 381.
Although the odd ball is flying past the outside edge, the pitch is still largely playing true and Shan Masood and Imam ul-Haq registered the tourist’s first 50 partnership for the first wicket of the series.
A spell of high quality from Steyn put a halt to Pakistani optimism when he removed both of them although Masood seemed perplexed by television replays indicating the ball had found the inside edge of his bat on its way through to De Kock.
Azhar Ali’s miserable tour concluded when he was bombed out by Duanne Olivier - the fourth time that’s happened in the series - and despite some lovely batting from Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam in the last half an hour, the task remains an arduous one if they are to end this series with a consolation win on Monday.@shockerhess