Wicket-keeper/batsmen have long fascinated cricket viewers, becoming such impact players in the past two decades. They either come in and change the course of the game with a quickfire cameo or soak up the pressure and keep the opposition at bay for as long as possible.
Quinton de Kock: The Modern Day Gilchrist?
Quinton de Kock is quickly becoming the modern leader in this pantheon of wicket-keeper/batsmen. An outright aggressive young player, de Kock has come a long way in his young four-year career. He, in many ways, reminds us of the great former Australian wicket-keeper/batsman, Adam Gilchrist. Opening the batting in the limited overs formats and batting at 6-7 in Test matches, both of them have very common traits which the modern game needs.
De Kock, like ‘Gilly’, has had a massive impact in changing many a game in their team’s favour, especially in Test cricket. Gilchrist had a great batting average of 47.60, which for his position is gold. Whether it be getting a quickfire 40 or 50 to push the team’s total further, or making bigger scores, Gilchrist did it all. Whirlwind hundreds, counterattack strokes when the chips were down, Gilchrist was the hallmark of the Australian spirit.
The 24-year-old de Kock is no different. He has played the role of the impact player to perfection. In his short career of 18 Tests, the boy from Gauteng has already racked up some serious numbers. The impact with which we mention has proof to it. De Kock so far has eight fifties and three hundreds. South Africa have won every Test when the youngster has crossed 50. Those runs have come at a strike rate of 72.02. Only David Warner has a better strike than him in Test cricket for players who have played more than 15 Test matches.
Electric behind the stumps, de Kock has become an integral cog in the South African wheel. His ODI and T20I numbers are equally as impressive – so much that at this moment of time, he sits 10th in the Test, 6th in the ODI and 23rd in the T20I Rankings.
Talking about wicket-keeper/batsmen post-Gilchrist’s retirement, hardly anyone possesses a profile like de Kock does. MS Dhoni, one of the greatest wicket-keeper/batsmen of all time, has always played in the middle order. Modern keepers like Sarfraz Ahmed, Matthew Wade, Jos Buttler, Wriddhimann Saha, Dinesh Chandimal all bat in the middle order and play different roles. De Kock, however, opens the batting in the limited overs formats and bats in the middle order in Tests. In 79 ODIs, he has 3273 runs at an average of 43.64 and a strike rate of 95.42 with 12 hundreds and 12 fifties. In 18 Tests, he has 1228 runs at 49.12 at a strike rate of 72.02 with three hundreds and eight fifties.
South Africa have relied a lot on Quinton de Kock for momentum and in recent history it has been him who has resurrected that momentum from the opposition. His tremendous average and a healthy strike rate is testament to the notion that the left-hander is not afraid to come in, attack from the word go and carry the tail with him. Wasn’t Gilchrist famous for the very same things? His 90 off 118 balls in the ongoing third Test vs New Zealand is his latest rearguard performance to take his team from 148/5 to 314.
While 18 Tests is hardly a time frame to call de Kock a great of the game, we have seen enough of this young man to start making such hypothesis. So we ask the question: is Quinton de Kock the modern Adam Gilchrist?