JOHANNESBURG – Quinton de Kock remains young at heart, but he’s getting old, and that’s okay, he’s “chilled” about it.
He’s also going to be a father, a prospect that neither frightens him nor causes much excitement – for now. “Very, very chilled, (there’s) still a long time to go,” he said about the prospect of fatherhood, along with wife, Sasha. “I’m still pretty easy, life still carries on for me. I’m not the one carrying the baby. Chilled, not nervous, not excited, or anything yet. It’s still a long time.”
Fatherhood awaits, but he’s already something of a father figure within the Proteas squad. Which is weird, because he still carries the baby face – notwithstanding the tufts of hair around his chin – wears a cheeky grin and appears to play in the same insouciant manner as when he started his international career as a 20 year old.
“In the cricketing world I’m still, like, a youngster. But because of the nature of the team, a 28 year old is quite a senior in this team,” he said. In fact after David Miller, with 347, De Kock has played the next highest number of T20 matches in the South African squad – 227.
“There are a lot of new guys, guys who haven’t played a lot of T20 cricket, guys still learning their own game. A few years ago a 28 year old was a youngster in the team, surrounded by AB (de Villiers), Graeme (Smith) and those guys. Now it's the other way around. I’m chilled about it. I’m still 28, still very young in this game, still have a lot to learn and a lot to achieve in this game. I am 21 in my own heart, forever,” he chirped.
De Kock, after enduring a troubling year adjusting to the demands of working, living, training and playing while in bio-secure environments – which led to him taking a break from the sport – has shown a renewed appetite for the game and making runs in the last few months.
He was the star of the West Indies tour, where South Africa won the Test and T20 series and having missed the ODIs, while completing a stint in The Hundred tournament, he has made important runs – including a 10th T20 International half-century in the second match – as South Africa claimed an unassailable 2-0 lead in the T20 series against Sri Lanka.
“I wish that what I know now, I knew when I was 21 or 22,” said De Kock, sounding older than 28. “I’m learning from past mistakes and experiences… I just want to score runs I guess. I’m now seen as one of the leaders in the batting line-up and I just have to hold on to that and be the best batsmen I can be.”
As he’s done so, his teammates have gradually come to terms with how to play on spinning surfaces, a critical aspect heading into a World Cup that it is anticipated will be played on slow, dry surfaces. “The guys have worked really hard and we are starting to see (good) signs. Especially to do it against Sri Lanka in their own conditions... all the batsmen have improved, they really showed a lot of people how to play spin.”
De Kock is heading to his sixth ICC tournament at the T20 World Cup, and like impending fatherhood, he isn’t spending much time worrying about what’s to come. “I’m pretty chilled right now, it's still a month away,” he said.
“When it comes together at the World Cup, I’ll be excited for it. I’ll definitely be ready for it. My hunger to win a World Cup is always up there, especially with this team. I have a great feeling about this team, we are heading in the right direction.”