TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
EARTH to Aussies: De Kock is coming, ready or not. Quinton de Kock, that is, who batted his way out of the wet paper bag his recent form has been in the third one-day international against New Zealand in Hamilton on Monday.
Rain ended the match after 30.4 overs and with it a series SA had won 2-0 on Friday. But not before De Kock had scored 80 not out in SA’s total of 157/3.
De Kock’s display dismissed disappointment over his string of sorry scores in his last five ODIs – 26, nine, seven, two and one.
After facing a dozen balls on Monday, De Kock had scored as many runs in boundaries. In all, he hit 11 fours from the 94 balls he faced. But De Kock also showed maturity and took on the responsibility of keeping SA going forward after they had been reduced to 70/3.
That caught the eye of AB de Villiers, who shared an unbroken stand of 87 with the left-hander.
“His last few games, he’s probably not scored as many runs as he wanted to,” De Villiers said. “But that tells a story about where he’s at with his cricket.
“To still keep his head up high and still try and still work hard at his game, and come through with a decent knock was really important.
“In one of his first few games I realised he had that in him. I also thought he was a flashy player, going hard at the ball all the time. But then I realised he actually has the other side of the game as well.
“For a 21-year-old to have that in his gameplan is amazing. I certainly didn’t have it at his age.”
High praise indeed, which means the Australians – SA’s opponents in three T20s and five ODIs starting next Wednesday – will take notice.
How did De Villiers rate his team’s readiness for what will be the most significant stage of their preparation for next year’s World Cup?
“We’re nowhere near where we want to be,” he said. “Actually, we’re not far off. But there are lots of areas we can work on.
“It’s a matter of being more ruthless in certain areas. In the second game, we stumbled with the bat. We could have got to 300-plus.
“With the ball, in the first game, we should have finished it off earlier.
“We’ve been working really hard on our fielding. I still believe we can improve, but we’re going in the right direction.”
In other words, their best today, their better tomorrow.