THE CAPTAIN’S SEAT
Quinton de Kock also leads South Africa in cue ball formats © Getty
Here’s Graeme Smith, CSA’s director of cricket, when asked in April who could succeed Faf du Plessis as South Africa’s test captain: “The only definitive answer I can give you is that it’s not going to be Quinton … Quinton will make it our cue ball captain. He won’t be the test captain. ”
Here’s Quinton de Kock in July: “Me and [Mark] Boucher had a very informal chat and I said, look, I don’t know how I feel about being the captain of the test too. The reality is that this is too much for me. I know it and I realize it. I don’t need all that stress on me. I could see from a mile away that I didn’t need that on my shoulders. ”
So who was named South Africa’s test captain on Friday? That’s right: Quinton de Kock.
A lot has happened in the real world, as well as in cricket, since South Africa last played an event, at the Wanderers in January, when England won 191 runs in four days to complete a 3-1 victory in the Serie. But CSA’s U-turn at De Kock calls for scrutiny.
A statement said he would lead the team for the summer only, and that the decision “is motivated by the light load of test cricket this season.” South Africa is scheduled to play seven Trials between December and March. But in total, De Kock will be in charge of 16 more games (three T20I have already been played against England) from December to April. He is also a major hitter and goalkeeper in all formats. That’s a lot on anyone’s shoulders.
India, the most active team in cricket, will play the same number of games over roughly the same period. They also have an all-format captain, but he has 55 Test, 92 ODI and 40 T20I leadership experience to depend on. Virat Kohli was born to be the captain of India, and he does so with a level of passion and skill that has raised the bar higher than ever.
De Kock is not that kind of captain. Few are. But, according to the statement, the selectors were “confident of De Kock’s leadership ability and the leadership he has shown so far”, and that “they would spend the next few months finalizing the appointment of the player who will assume the permanent position.” .
Dean Elgar, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Keshav Maharaj and Aiden Markram have all raised their hands for work or are in the frame whether they like it or not. “We are also pleased with the leadership group in the team and we are cultivating a strong culture of individual leadership at the same time for the team to produce a sustainable flow of potential captains for the future,” Mpitsang was quoted as saying.
All candidates have their pros and cons. Elgar has long earned your respect, but, at 33, is he too far along in his career? Naming Bavuma would be a major transformation blow, but his place in XI is not rock solid. Van der Dussen has impressed in every way, but has only played four Tests. Maharaj’s captaincy ambitions came as a shock when he expressed them, but it wouldn’t hurt to put a spinner on the paper, except that it’s not a safe choice for all parties, particularly in South African conditions.
And then there’s Markram, the heir apparent, the fine young man who led his team to glory at the 2014 U19 World Cup, which has marked centuries in his last three first-class innings. But, in his dozen of first-class innings before the hattrick of hundreds, 11 of them completed, he failed to enter double figures six times and never went above 48. For the sake of South Africa, the real Markram must deal with this. . summer.
It will help him to achieve this if the team plays better than when they were beaten 3-0 by England in the last two weeks. And that will need a better captaincy from De Kock, who at times in those games seemed isolated in his personal blocking bubble rather than having visceral control of his players. Not only did he seem eerily absent from events on the field, his presence seemed to diminish as the pressure mounted.
Van der Dussen did not share that point of view in an irritable response to a question during a press conference: “I don’t think it’s getting complicated for Quinton de Kock. I don’t know why you would come with that angle. Quinny is a brilliant captain. On the field, his cricket mind is absolutely brilliant, in the locker room he’s really good and he’s one of the best players in the world, as we know. ” I told you it was awesome.
De Kock’s lead on the white ball began in an ODI series in Sri Lanka in August 2018. Prior to England’s T20I series, South Africa had won seven of 15 games with him in command, and six of 11 since his appointment before the house. ODI series in February. Although the results were not conclusive, he looked like a captain last summer. So far this season, less.
That doesn’t mean you have lost your mojo; maybe he just lost it. Maybe it’s somewhere in the Centurion or the Wanderers.