Cape Town – If someone was to tell you that the Proteas were to win their first white-ball series in England with Quinton de Kock only scoring 17 runs it would be considered rather far-fetched.
It would reside in the same realm as Reeza Hendricks joining T20 trailblazers Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum – along with Gustav Mckeon and Rayyankhan Pathan – as the only batters to ever strike four consecutive T20 International half-centuries.
But, as bizarre as it all sounds, that is the Proteas’ world at the minute. And the contrasting realities of South Africa’s current T20I opening pair.
Hendricks is seeing the ball big at the moment, taking down both England and Ireland’s bowlers at will with elegant stroke play, while De Kock is playing with the finesse of a blockman at the local butcher.
The Proteas’ batting depth is arguably as strong as it’s ever been. Multiple players are in form with the stylish Hendricks leading the pack on this tour of the United Kingdom.
The only blot in coach Mark Boucher’s copybook ahead of the T20 Cup in October is De Kock’s lean run. The white-ball specialist’s last T20I half-century was 10 innings ago against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Since then, he’s managed just 129 runs at an average of 12.9. Even De Kock acknowledged his slim returns when he posted on Instagram “Got the ‘Thanks for coming’ award this series!!!” after the triumph over England. It was accompanied though by “But still one of my favourite series wins with this team!”.
It is the latter statement that is crucial for De Kock and the Proteas. The 28-year-old is a world-class performer and has earned the right to be mollycoddled through a barren patch.
De Kock’s mindset and motivation are always the greater concerns, particularly when T20 franchise suitors hover all around him. He is due to join the Southern Brave in The Hundred next week.
But with his focus still seemingly squarely on doing well for the Proteas and helping the national team win a first-ever T20 Cup, then the clock is ticking before De Kock explodes and produces one of those belligerent innings that only he is capable of.
Hendricks certainly thinks so.
“Fortunately, it has happened to me where I’ve been able to go on a good run, and I’ve got some momentum on my side, and hopefully I can continue with the momentum. We know how cricket goes, if turns, then it can be a dark side, at the moment it’s going well for me,” he said after South Africa’s 21-run victory over Ireland in the first T20I in Bristol.
“Unfortunately he (De Kock) is on the other side of it at the moment. But we also know how quickly it can turn as well. He just needs one innings to get himself going again, and things will turn around for him.
“We know the quality that he does possess. It’s just a matter of time before things click again, and we know he will be back to his best.”
The Proteas will go again on Friday against the Irish at the same Gloucester venue in a bid to close out their fifth T20I series win in six attempts.
Hopefully De Kock has a lot more to post afterwards.