Quinton de Kock still trying to get 'a feel' for Proteas captaincy
That was Quinton de Kock, in his usual non-fussed way, assessment of his first season in charge of the Proteas limited-overs teams. De Kock led the Proteas to a 1-1 T20 international series draw in India last October in Faf du Plessis’s absence.
The home summer, though, saw Du Plessis resigning from all leadership roles and De Kock being installed permanently as the new T20 and one-day international captain in January. The challenge before the 27-year-old was no easy one with the Proteas heading into battle against world champions England and arch-rivals Australia.
The Proteas drew the T20 series 1-1, but fell short 2-1 in the ODI series against Eoin Morgan’s star-studded outfit. De Kock’s initiation was not complete yet with the Australians winning 2-1 in the T20s before the Proteas finally found their rhythm with a comprehensive 3-0 clean sweep of the ODIs.
“The series against Australia... we had quite a young team and they had a powerhouse side, playing one of the best one-day sides in the world, so for us to beat them 3-0 was a highlight,” De Kock said yesterday.
“I must be honest, I took it pretty slowly. I am still trying to get a feel of how to go about things. I’m still figuring out how to go about things. I’ve learnt quite a bit. It was really more about taking it step-by-step and just throwing my ideas into the mix straight away about how I saw things going forward.
"I have learnt quite a bit and I didn’t do too badly. I think I went okay. We are busy rebuilding as a limited-overs team, especially ODIs. Twenty20 I think we know what is going on.”
While Covid-19 has put a halt on virtually the entire world, and having a negative impact not only on people’s health but also the global economy, the enforced break from all forms of cricket has been a virtual blessing in disguise for De Kock.
South Africa’s limited-overs captain has been a consistent presence across all three formats for the Proteas since his international debut in 2012, while he has also regularly featured in the IPL for the past seven years during the “off-season”.
With the increased responsibility placed on his shoulders this past summer, there is a great fear that De Kock could suffer burnout, or even worse, a long-term injury due to him captaining the team, opening the batting and keeping wicket.
New Cricket SA director of cricket Graeme Smith was very clear about his concerns over De Kock’s workload recently, stating that he would not be considered for the vacant Test captaincy post. Smith wants De Kock to focus on scoring runs for the Test team.
The wicketkeeper-batsman seems to share the former Proteas captain’s sentiments, admitting that he was a bit “grumpy” during the England series.
De Kock struck 380 runs at an average of 47.50, passing the half-century mark on four occasions but most disappointingly failed to convert a single one into a sixth career Test ton. He came closest in the first Test at SuperSport Park when he was dismissed for 98.
“I played decently, but there was a time when I was starting to get grumpy at not converting my starts into big scores, especially in the Test series against England,” De Kock said.
“I want to get better, to start scoring big hundreds for the team. That is the most important thing to get going now.”