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regular-article-logo Sunday, 19 May 2024

World Cup 2023: South Africa wrestle with Quinton De Kock puzzle

Defeat to Netherlands only goes on to reflect how heavily Proteas’ batting is dependent on De Kock

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 19.10.23, 08:45 AM
Quinton de Kock’s performance will be crucial for South Africa’s prospects in the remainder of this World Cup.

Quinton de Kock’s performance will be crucial for South Africa’s prospects in the remainder of this World Cup. PTI picture

After back-to-back centuries against Sri Lanka and Australia, Quinton de Kock was quiet with the bat out in the middle, managing only 20 against the Netherlands in Dharamsala on Tuesday. And South Africa lost the rain-curtailed game by 38 runs.

The defeat to the Netherlands, whose bowling attack isn't at all the strongest in this World Cup, only goes on to reflect how heavily the Proteas' batting is dependent on De Kock.

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It's pretty evident that if South Africa have to keep their World Cup campaign alive till the semi-final stage, opener De Kock needs to make a substantial contribution with the bat. Else, their prospects appear bleak as they will be up against stronger bowling units going forward.

Now, what happens to the Proteas once this World Cup is over? Particularly, as De Kock had announced retirement from ODIs after the ongoing edition of the Cup, thanks to the lure of T20 league money that influenced his decision.

The next big ODI event is in two years' time with Pakistan set to host the Champions Trophy in 2025. Without De Kock, who has gone close to being an ideal successor of the likes of Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla with 6405 runs, 19 centuries and 30 half-centuries in the 50-over format, it could well be a hell of a task for South Africa to fare well in that tournament.

"It's very tough to fill De Kock's void as he's a special talent. I don't see anyone in the team or in the system. The best South Africa can hope for is someone else to come through the ranks," former Proteas' top-order batsman Daryll Cullinan told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

"Obviously, it's difficult to find an alternative for Quinny, but it also provides with an opportunity to breed some of the promising youngsters. Say, someone like 'Baby AB' (Dewald Brevis)," feels former South Africa selector Victor Mpitsang.

There isn't much hope of De Kock being asked to reconsider his ODI retirement by people who matter in South African cricket.

The focus rather is to ensure he remains available for the next big ICC tournament — the T20 World Cup next year in the Caribbean and the United States.

"Discussions can lead to a situation where Quinton continues playing for South Africa in T20Is. We are negotiating with CSA (Cricket South Africa) to create contract models that will make it attractive for players like Quinton to continue playing for South Africa.

"It's about allowing players to continue playing for the Proteas and have freedom to play domestic T20 events as well," Andrew Breetzke, CEO of the South African Cricketers' Association, emphasised.

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