Quinton de Kock has been a shadow of a batsmen in the recent Test series against India. Photo: BackpagePix

Temba Bavuma and Faf du Plessis’ deliberate scoring manner was apparently too stodgy.

South Africa needed to take the game away from the opposition, and play a braver brand of cricket, they said.

Well, there is merit in that theory, but there has to be method to that madness.

And that method surely cannot involve Quinton de Kock batting outside the very spot he made his name from.

The quicker de Kock makes a return to his batting seventh haven, the better for all parties concerned.

Ever since he started yo-yoing up the order, thanks to insistence from the outside, he has not nearly looked like the same man.

It’s looking terminal now, and India have bowled to him as if sure that he will leave the crease as hastily as he arrived.

De Kock at No6 has been a dead man walking, his arrival at the crease signalling the beginning of a struggle for the lower order.

Vernon Philander’s resurgence in the runs column has papered over some of the gaping holes that De Kock has left, but it cannot go on like this forever.

De Kock needs insurance above him because he is becoming a serious burden on those below him.

His confidence, for so long a natural source of joy to the team, looks shot.

We can speculate until the sun goes down, but the crux of the matter is that the 25 year-old dasher looked infinitely happier at No7 than he does at six.

He was free to dictate the tempo, and he normally did so with his buddy Temba at the other end. It worked.

But somewhere between the New Zealand tour and the home summer of 2017/18, South Africa got greedy.

They wanted more out of De Kock and thought it was fine to play an extra bowler instead of the sensibility of six batsmen - and then the De Kock sledgehammer.

That bravado can work against weaker nations but it has been found out against India.

It will certainly be honed in on by the Aussies, who would have relished watching De Kock bat as if his feet are stuck in concrete.

Urgently, then, South Africa need to go back to the basics that made them such a tough nut to crack. They will not live with Australia if they try to rely on some handy lower-order runs to save them every innings. Those have always been a bonus, a cherry to add on top of what should be a cake baked by the batting above.

As for De Kock himself, there is a growing concern for his indifferent form.

No one makes runs forever, and South African cricket - players, public, media and all  may have forgotten that he is still a young man in the midst of finding himself fully at the highest level.

He burst on the scene with such gusto that we all dared to think he was Superman, capable of batting like Adam Gilchrist forever.

The Aussie legend took his time before he became the assassin that he retired as.

Perhaps De Kock needs a break, a chance to reflect and rediscover the hunger that made him gobble up runs for fun.

Perhaps he has started to over-think things. Perhaps he is still getting used to the air in Knysna.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Perhaps he was born to be an explosive number seven. Period.


Sunday Tribune

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