There are very few questions in cricket to which almost all fans from around the world will have the same answer, aren’t there? Opinions have always been divided over who is the greatest all-rounder ever: Kallis or Sir Sobers? The best batsman post-Sir Don: Sachin or Lara? Best spinner: Warne or Murali?
But if there is one question to which the answer would be unanimous, it is: Who is the greatest wicket-keeper-batsman of all time? And the answer is Adam Gilchrist. It is said that cricket hasn’t seen anyone like him, and till not too long ago, it was stated that it never would. But this status has now changed.
A young wicket-keeper batsman, courtesy his exploits in international cricket over the past 2-3 seasons, has drawn comparisons with the great man. This youngster is the South African wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock.
There are numerous similarities between the two: They bat left handed, are attacking players, open the innings in limited overs matches, bat at no. 7 in Test matches, and of course, keep wickets.
Quinton de Kock made heads turn with his stylish yet aggressive stroke play right from his U-19 days. He looked a class apart, and there weren’t many doubts in the minds of people watching him play that this kid will soon go on to represent his country at the highest level and forge a successful career for himself. But not many would know that cricket wasn’t the first choice career option for Quinton.
He was a baseball player as a kid and had even considered moving to the United States of America to pursue a career in it, but his father noticed cricketing talent in his boy and managed to convince him to stay back and focus on it instead. And can we ever thank senior Mr. de Kock enough for it!
The southpaw made his International debut in December 2012 in a T20I against New Zealand, aged just 20. Coming in at no. 4, he stayed unbeaten on 28 off 23 deliveries to help complete a paltry chase of 87 and set up an eight-wicket win for his team. A one-day debut soon followed next month against the same opposition.
The first few months in International cricket weren’t hugely successful for him and he was dropped from the team in July 2013. But he made a tremendous comeback later the same year to score his maiden one-day ton against Pakistan, and then hit 3 tons in as many matches in an ODI series against India.
A Test debut wasn’t too far now and he got his chance in February 2014 against Australia at home. He couldn’t make a huge impression in his first outing as a Test batsman but South Africa eased home to a 231 run win in the match.
Since then though, there has been no looking back for this batting sensation. A permanent member of the team in all 3 formats now, de Kock has racked up some hugely impressive numbers in his brief career so far.
Let’s have a look at his stats across formats.
His Test career is still very young as he has played only 12 Tests thus far, but since 6 of them have been at home and an equal number away, we can have a look at the numbers on a home and away basis to see how he does in different conditions:
Tests at home:
Tests away from home:
As can be seen, he averages above 50 both home and away in Tests, which is a remarkable achievement indeed.
In ODIs, his numbers are exemplary:
An average of almost 44 and a strike rate of close to 95 tell us how he makes a big impact in one-day games. Add to that the fact that these runs come at the top of the order and the value becomes even higher, as he gives the early momentum to a one-day innings along with his opening partner Hashim Amla that ensures his team’s control on the game right from the beginning. Of the 19 times he has crossed 50, he has gone on to make a hundred 11 times which is a conversion rate of almost 60%.
Looking at his ODI stats on a home and away basis.
ODI at home:
ODI away from home:
As can be expected, there is a difference in the numbers when we see how he performs at home in ODIs as compared to the away ODIs, but the numbers away are no less impressive. An average of 37 striking at 88, with 11 scores of above 50 in just 47 innings is something most teams will gladly take from their opener.
His T20I stats:
The total of average (close to 30) and strike rate (of almost 130) is around 160 which tells he is a very effective player at the top of the innings in a T20 international, where giving a small but quick start is at times more important than staying at the crease for a long period of time and making a 50, and that is where his effectiveness comes into the picture. In the 2016 T20 World Cup, he was remarkably consistent for South Africa, becoming the highest run-getter for them and hence, was named in ICC’s Team of the tournament.
De Kock - The Match Winner
The true measure of a player’s performance in an International game is determined by the impact of his contributions on the team’s fortunes. By fortunes here, we mean results. In that vein, let’s have a look at how South Africa have fared in Tests and ODIs when de Kock has scored in excess of 50:
ODI Matches in which de Kock scored 50 or more:
Test Matches in which de Kock scored 50 or more in any innings:
The stats here are mind-boggling. South Africa, as the table tells us, have won all 6 Tests in which de Kock has scored 50 or more in any innings, and in ODIs, only twice in 19 matches when he has crossed 50, his team has ended up on the losing side. Numbers don’t lie and in de Kock’s case, they reveal overwhelmingly how big a match winner he is for the team.
He is just 23 and is already almost 4 years old in International cricket. His numbers tell that he can perhaps already be touted as South Africa’s best ever wicket-keeper batsman, and if he can keep himself fit in the rigors of International cricket and play for at least 12-13 more years, one can’t even imagine what kind of numbers he’ll have next to him name the day he decides to call it a day.
South Africa clearly have found their next batting superstar in him after Kallis and de Villiers, and must preserve this prodigious talent carefully so as to make sure he serves them with distinction for years to come and plays a huge role in leading them to world domination with his bat, in all 3 formats. Going by his batting style and on-field charisma, cricket fans would surely enjoy every second of it!