CAPE TOWN – Okay, don’t get me wrong. We all know what happened that one time Quinton de Kock walked his dogs.
If you don’t recall, De Kock slipped and hurt his knee the day before the third Test against England at the Wanderers in January 2016 while taking his pair of Jack Russells for a trot in Joburg.
“Quinny said he was walking his dogs yesterday, and he slipped and he somehow twisted his knee,” Dean Elgar said at a press conference after the first day’s play.
“And I guess as the day went on into the evening, it got worse. It’s something new to his life (walking dogs).
“A very freak injury. We’re sorry for him because he’s just come back from an ankle injury as well against the West Indies. Hopefully it’s a quick recovery.”
On Monday, De Kock was again ruled out of action, but this time it had nothing to do with his dogs as a blow to his left wrist while batting in the second ODI against India on Sunday will sideline him for up to four weeks.
To be honest, the short breather couldn’t have come sooner for the man himself and the Proteas.
At his best, the dashing left-hander is one of the finest wicket-keeper batsmen in the world.
He can marshal the tail to add quick runs at the end of the innings in Test cricket, and tear attacks apart as an opener in the limited-overs arena.
But it’s been a rough time for the 25-year-old in recent months. Scores of 24, 43, 0, 12, 8, 0, 34 and 20 against Zimbabwe and India adds up to a tally of 141 runs in eight innings across four Tests and two ODIs.
That is not the free-flowing Quinton de Kock we know.
His main attributes – quick hands and feet – have let him down at the crease. In fact, he is so short of confidence at the moment that he “walked” when wrapped on the pads by Yuzvendra Chahal at Kingsmead last Thursday.
A post shared by Quinton De Kock (@qdk_12) on
De Kock didn’t even look at captain Faf du Plessis, and had already started his journey to the pavilion before umpire Bongani Jele had raised his finger for lbw.
Had he consulted with Du Plessis, they might have decided to review, which would’ve saved him as the replays showed the ball would’ve missed the stumps.
De Kock followed it up by hitting a long hop from Chahal straight to Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the midwicket boundary at Centurion, and he looked like he was carrying the world on his shoulders as he trudged off the field.
Clearly, something has to give. The Proteas are not getting their usual commanding starts from De Kock and Amla, and are now 2-0 down in the six-match ODI series, having lost the final Test at the Wanderers as well.
It would’ve been difficult for Du Plessis, coach Ottis Gibson and selection convenor Linda Zondi to drop De Kock, as the hope may have been that he is just “one innings away” from coming good again as he is such an integral part of the Proteas batting line-up in all formats.
Well, now that decision has been taken away from them due to the wrist injury.
The Proteas desperately need De Kock to find his touch ahead of the much-anticipated four-Test rubber against Australia starting on March 1.
They cannot afford another jittery batting performance such as the one against India, as Australia’s Test batsmen and bowlers are likely to be even better than Virat Kohli’s men in South African conditions.
And with Gibson preferring to field just six specialist batsmen – with De Kock at No 6 – the Proteas need their wicket-keeper to be on song with the bat.
Perhaps the best remedy for him is to get away from the game over the next few weeks as he nurses his wrist problem.
Walking his dogs might be part of that. Just this time, don’t slip, Quinny!
* Ashfak Mohamed is the Digital Sports Editor of Independent Media.