CAPE TOWN - Five golden prizes at the CSA Awards evening at the Theatre on the Track in Kyalami on Saturday will not see Proteas superstar Quinton de Kock rest on his laurels.
Instead, the brilliant wicketkeeper-batsman believes there are still areas where he can improve his game. It certainly is a warning to the opposition, especially ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom next month.
De Kock was just one award short of equalling his teammate Kagsio Rabada’s haul of six prizes last season by winning the Test Cricketer and ODI Cricketer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, Fans’ Player of the Year and the big one of SA Cricketer of the Year.
Imran Tahir spoiled De Kock’s clean sweep after the prolific leg-spinner was named the T20 International Cricketer of the Year.
The night, though, belonged to De Kock after a scintillating 2016-17 season across all formats.
“It makes me enjoy the game more if I win individual accolades, but I just want to contribute, even if it’s just a run-out, I want to feel like I’ve done something to help the team,” De Kock said.
“Sometimes my technique isn’t the best on slow decks. Fast wickets are my game. I try and read what the bowlers do and play to that situation, but when the ball is turning excessively; I still have a lot to work on.”
De Kock is looking forward to getting back on the field after missing the IPL due to a finger injury sustained on the New Zealand tour. Instead of slugging it out in India and being worn down by the hectic travel schedule around the country, De Kock spent time recharging his batteries at his new house in Knysna and is now “100 percent fit and ready to play”.
There’s no doubt De Kock will be one of the show-stoppers at the Champions Trophy, especially having also won the ICC ODI Player of the Year last year for his exploits in the limited-overs arena. De Kock was the quickest wicketkeeper-batsman to 3 000 ODI runs - even faster than the legendary Australian gloveman Adam Gilchrist.
The 24-year-old has earned the respect of a worldwide audience with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting often comparing the young South African to his former teammate Gilchrist.
Equally, the often-critical Australian media only had rave reviews for De Kock, especially during South Africa’s Test tour Down Under last year when the Proteas star played a couple of brilliant innings lower down the order to secure the 2-1 series victory. There were also a couple of breathtaking catches - the one-handed dive to his right in Hobart springs to mind - that had the Aussie press reminiscing about their former great.
De Kock was not too fussed though about Ponting’s comments and preferred to heap praise on his teammates who have helped his development.
“He was commentating when he said that and I was playing, so I didn’t hear it,” De Kock said. “I don’t know why he said that. The ones who have allowed me to grow as a player are the guys in my team such as Hash (Hashim Amla) and AB (De Villiers). The shout out should go to those guys.”