As Quinton de Kock’s international stock continues to rise with each dynamic century, the comparisons with Aussie great Adam Gilchrist are inevitable.
After all, the number of similarities between the pair are uncanny. For one thing, both give their teams a priceless advantage at the top of the order, scoring at a rate that intimidates any attack.
Gilchrist, at the turn of the century, was perhaps the most feared opening batsman in the game, because he batted purely on instinct.
De Kock was barely out of his nappies, then, but he has very clearly taken a leaf out of the Australian legend’s book. Gilchrist, building on the kamikaze starts popularised by the Sri Lankan pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, allowed Australia’s wealth of middle-order talent the luxury of being ahead of the game by the time they came in.
Similarly, De Kock has quickly started to do the same for South Africa.
It is even more impressive that he is doing it from such a young age, when most players are still mixing occasional brilliance with a lot of bumbling.
De Kock, just 23, already seems to be well accustomed to his role opening with Hashim Amla. His maturity is borne out in his astonishing conversion rate when it comes to One-Day International cricket.
Nine centuries from 14 scores of 50 or more says much for his appetite for big runs.
In Bloemfontein on Wednesday night, he was as gutted as anyone that the rain curtailed an intriguing chase because, in his mind, the game was still very much in the balance.
That’s the wonderful thing about youth.
One’s enthusiasm has not been dulled by failure and despair.
Nothing is impossible.
And so, much like Gilly, but not quite the same, De Kock looks like he will win – or at least set up – many games for South Africa over the next decade.
There was a thought to make him open in the Test match at the Wanderers recently, but that would be a folly.
Much like Gilly, No7 is his slot in the longest format, where he can prey on wilting attacks, and transform 200/5 into 450 all out.
He did it beautifully at Centurion in the final Test, and that will hopefully settle him in the Test side.
Devastatingly destructive when in full flow, De Kock doesn’t allow much to cloud his judgment. See ball, hit ball is the mantra, and it has served him rather well.
It is unnerving for the opposition, and though he will get it wrong from time to time, his instincts should be encouraged to the hilt, just as Gilchrist was.
Of course, not everything De Kock does is out of the Gilchrist manual.
For one thing, he is not nearly as vocal from behind the stumps – not yet, anyway – but that may come with the thousands of runs he scores.
And, while Gilchrist famously walked when he nicked anything, De Kock cannot be trusted to even walk a Jack Russell without a minder.
But, minor shortcomings such as that can be tolerated, because the things he does with blade in hand are outrageous, at times.
In that sense, he is very much like Gilly. And that is a very good thing.
– THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
Original source: The quintessential Gilly-like run hero