TELFORD VICE in Dunedin
HARD-hitting Quinton de Kock has faced 452 bowlers in international cricket, but only two of them have dismissed him more times than Jeetan Patel.
Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has had De Kock’s number seven times in the 11 matches in which he has bowled to him. Trent Boult, the New Zealand quick, has got him out five times in 12 games.
Sri Lankans Sachithra Senanayake and Lahiru Kumara, an off-spinner and a fast bowler, have dismissed De Kock four times each in eight and five games respectively.
But New Zealand off-spinner Patel tops them all by some measures. In the only three games he has played against De Kock he has removed the lusty left-hander four times – and all in the space of 11 days.
In the fourth one-day international in Hamilton on March 1, Patel came round the wicket to have De Kock caught behind first ball.
Three days later, in the last match of that series in Auckland, De Kock charged down the pitch and spooned a catch to long-off.
The test series started in Dunedin on Wednesday, when De Kock’s drive was caught at backward point.
Patel pitched a delivery on De Kock’s leg stump that hit the top of off during South Africa’s second innings on Saturday.
In the throes of his happiness Patel held up four fingers in triumph.
And well he might: of those 452 bowlers who have turned their arms over to De Kock only 76 have been able to celebrate his dismissal.
That puts Patel in the top 16.81% and among only 28 bowlers who have taken De Kock’s wicket more than once.
But he declined to twist the knife when he had the opportunity.
“He got a good nut in Hamilton and he hit one straight up at Eden Park (in Auckland) when he was trying to get on with it; that happens,” Patel said. “The two wickets (in Dunedin) were against spinning deliveries.
“I’m not going to say there is voodoo or anything going on there, but it’s pleasing to know you’ve got some confidence when you’re bowling to someone.”
There was plenty of belief in South Africa’s camp that De Kock would learn to deal with Patel.
“Jeetan Patel is a serious player,” Neil McKenzie, South Africa’s batting consultant, said.
“I’ve played against him and watched him bowl – he’s played county cricket for years and is a seasoned professional.
“He’s a quality performer playing against a quality batsman, but I’m sure Quinton will overcome most obstacles.
“He will think about it and come back a smarter, better player.”
Faf du Plessis was also in De Kock’s corner.
“You have to look at the stats and say (Patel) has got him out a few times,” South Africa’s captain said.
“But when you have the quality of Quinton de Kock you have to back that his skill can survive anything.
“If you had a guy who wasn’t as skillful as Quinton I’d be worried.
“But with a guy that skillful and with that much talent you back him to find a way.”
Dean Elgar, who like De Kock bats left-handed but has been dismissed by Patel only once in the three matches in which he has faced him, went beyond the boundary.
“‘Quinnie’ just needs to back himself,” Elgar said.
“He’s a naturally gifted cricketer and he needs to have that mindset from now on.
“A welcoming thing is the (players’) families arrive soon and that’s going to be a good thing for him, just to get away from the game.
“He needs to back himself and trust his cricket ability.
“We’ve just got to give him a bit of love.”