De Kock struggled for much of the year, with a poor run of form in the ODI World Cup followed by an awful tour to Bangladesh where he was eventually dropped from the national side. However, such has been his turnaround in form and most importantly confidence that it seems incredible the national selectors did not restore him to the Test side for the series with England.
“There was a time when that sparkle in his eye wasn’t there anymore and understandably so,” said Titans coach Rob Walter. “Just the amount of cricket he played away from home in particular, then being dropped, and then having to go on an SA A tour - while that was good for him because he got some hundreds in India - it probably wore him down.”
De Kock used his time out of the national spotlight wisely. Between the Bangladesh tour and the trip to India with the SA A team, according to Walter, he “worked bloody hard, hitting hundreds and hundreds of balls”.
“We worked really hard on some small technical things that emerged following discussions with me and from the national team’s coaching staff.
“His contact point was out a little bit and he wasn’t timing the ball as well as he wanted to and with that, you give a few chances, you do that and you don’t get the runs and then it spirals,” he said.
The hard work has paid off and De Kock has been at the forefront of the Titans’ amazing run to the final where they will face the Dolphins in Centurion this evening.
“He’s confident, he’s backing himself and his skill level. When you get a young guy who believes he is capable of doing anything, especially Quinny, he becomes very dangerous,” remarked Walter.
De Kock has scored 425 runs in the competition and made three fifties to be the highest run-scorer this season. His opening partnership with Henry Davids has been a key part of the Titans’ success.
The pair have shared two century stands and another two of more than 70 to provide the Titans with the solid starts that has allowed their middle-order and prodigious power-hitting all-rounders to prosper.
“With Quinny scoring as he does, Henry just has to hang around with a strike-rate of about 100 and when Quinny goes out, then Henry’s been able to explode at the end. They’ve formed a great partnership in a short space of time,” Walter added.
That opening duo is just one part of a strong Titans unit that will be favourites for this evening’s clash. While the Dolphins, with Kevin Pietersen back in their line-up, are heavily reliant on their top-order to win them games, the Titans have a more rounded side, with depth in their batting provided by a trio of big-hitting all-rounders - Albie Morkel, David Wiese and Chris Morris - while Farhaan Behardien lends stability in the middle-order.
“The key to our success in this campaign is how everyone has contributed at some point and that is not just in the starting eleven, but one to 15 in the squad,” said Walter.
The Dolphins will look to strengthen their starting side by fitting in Imran Tahir and Kyle Abbott, while Dean Elgar is the only national player who’s been made available for selection for the Titans.
“KP coming back makes a massive difference. He’s the second leading run-scorer and has only played half of the competition,” said Walter.
The Titans lost just twice in the league phase of the competition, one of those defeats came against the Dolphins in the competition’s opening match at Centurion.
“That first game will give us an idea of what we might want to do differently. It has no impact on the team’s confidence going into the final. Our team on Saturday is worlds apart from when we played them in that first game,” Walter said.
Saturday’s match starts at 6pm.
Original source: De Kock gets that sparkle back