TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
QUINTON de Kock probably wasn’t trying to give Australia ammunition to pin to their dressingroom wall ahead of their one-day series against SA, but that’s just what he did.
In an expansive answer to a reporter’s question that started in the throes of last season, when SA lost test series in India and at home to England and failed to reach the final of a triangular ODI series in the Caribbean, De Kock said, “Four months in India takes a lot out of you and it was straight from there to West Indies.
“That’s five months out of the country and just constant cricket. It’s tough.”
“That’s why I think some of the Aussies are blaming their fingers to go home early.”
The Aussie in question is Shaun Marsh, who cried off the trip to SA with a broken finger he sustained last month during the tour to Sri Lanka.
James Faulkner is out with a calf strain and Mitchell Starc gashed his shin in training two weeks ago.
Not that Starc was in danger of having to mark out a run-up in SA – he and Josh Hazlewood are being rested, which would seem to add substance to De Kock’s theory.
Besides, why should teams take seriously five arbitrary ODIs wedged into a schedule studded with more important matters. Like the test series SA will play in Australia in November.
But to more or less accuse an Aussie of being soft, as De Kock did, is not clever; even if the quip was made in jest.
Doubtless De Kock will find his own fingers in the firing line more often than they might have been in the first match of the series at Centurion on Friday.
Happily, De Kock has the talent, skill and confidence to give as good as he gets.
“I like to keep confident in my game, I don’t like to get into my own shell,” he said.
“My confidence will always be there. Even if we don’t do well it’ll always be there.”
Like it was in Benoni on Sunday, when a belligerent De Kock spanked 82 off 66 balls in SA’s 206-run win over Ireland.
Deservedly the focus was on Temba Bavuma, who opened the batting on his ODI debut and scored 113.
But Bavuma isn’t part of the squad for the Australia series.
Instead De Kock will welcome back Hashim Amla as his partner at the top of the order.
They will be key to SA’s hopes of beating the Australians, and if the home side do so well enough – at least 4-1 – they will go from fourth to second place in the rankings.
Australia are on top of that heap, a status they will want to justify in their match against the Irish in Benoni on Tuesday.
Anything SA can do they will want to do better.