JOHANNESBURG – Quinton de Kock may be a man of few words but that’s not something his teammates find when he’s on the field. Hence he’s been made South Africa’s captain for the remainder of the ODI series in Sri Lanka.
It is a surprising decision by the selectors given De Kock’s often straightforward assessment of his game.
However, at the age of 25, with 93 ODI caps to his name, an international career that’s heading into its fifth year and as a former SA Under-19 captain, it’s a decision that makes sense, sort of.
On the one hand, South Africa needed a replacement for Faf du Plessis who injured his shoulder in the third ODI on Sunday, while another aspect is the wretched form and loss of confidence experienced by Aiden Markram.
Coach Ottis Gibson, however, noted other aspects of De Kock’s cricket personality that go unnoticed by the public.
“Since I got here, speaking to the players and through my interactions with Quinton, I could see he has a very good cricket brain, he understands the game,” Gibson said yesterday. “With Faf injured, now seems like a good opportunity to show that side of his game as a leader for the next two games and see how he does.
He understands the game, he’s constantly helping the captain on the field and he shows good leadership on the field even when he’s just a normal player.”
As South Africa’s U19 coach in 2012, Ray Jennings didn’t think De Kock set a good example, with the coach questioning De Kock’s work ethic up to the time he turned professional and then even as he started making his way as an international player.
If there was a problem with his work ethic, it’s not something his coaches noticed at franchise level, receiving lavish praise from former Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana and even in the short period he’s been in charge, Gibson has seen De Kock grow up.
“He’s matured a lot recently since I’ve been here and hopefully that is something that will help mature him further as a player,” Gibson added.
With the likes of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, who will captain the team in the one-off T20 International next week and David Miller around, De Kock isn’t lacking for experienced heads to turn to when required.
The player who last captained the Proteas when Du Plessis was injured against India, Markram, is being given room to rediscover his best form without the burden of leadership - for now said Gibson.
“He’s not in the team at the moment, he’s had some struggles on this Sri Lanka tour so far so we thought let’s have a look at Quinny for the next two games and give Aiden time to just settle himself, catch himself again, we know he is a fine player,” Gibson remarked.
Markram has scored 44 runs in eight innings in Sri Lanka, including three ducks and has looked a shell of the player who celebrated a magnificent century against Australia at the Wanderers in March. But this is a significant growth period for him still and given how he has overcome difficulties in the past, backing him now is definitely the right option.
Today’s match, a day/night affair, starts at 11am.