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South Africa's very own Gilchrist

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Quinton_de_Kock_South_Africa_CricketImagine you were a bowler a decade ago and were asked to open the bowling the next day. Imagine that Adam Gilchrist was holding the bat at the other end. I can guarantee that you would either have nightmares simply hearing his name or spend a sleepless night with chills running down your spine. You would spend the whole night planning, thinking and strategizing where and how to bowl to this man only to realize the next day, on the field, that it was all in vain.

He would thrash you through the covers, punish your good deliveries down the ground with cruelty, slice your wide and short deliveries over point with utmost ease and, dare you bowl a bouncer anywhere near him, he would just pull you like a pro into the top-tier of the stands. Without you even realizing it, he would have tarnished your reputation as a bowler and put question marks over your next appearance for your team.

Those who have bowled to him over the years know what it feels like to get hammered all around the park. Those who haven’t… well, I must say that they are lucky! Lucky enough to just watch him hammering other bowlers. Thanking the almighty for not having to play cricket at the same time as Gilchrist. Lucky. I’ll give them that.

However, the bowlers breathed easy after the swashbuckling Australian opener retired in 2008, thinking that he was one of a kind, and it would take another century for another Gilly to arrive. Little did they know that there was another kid growing up in Johannesburg who was getting ready to carry on the legacy- this time for South Africa. He is none other than Quinton de Kock, the talisman of South African batting line-up in recent times.

 

There always seemed to be something special about this little man since he arrived in international cricket for South Africa in a T20 against New Zealand back in 2012. By the time he played his 20th ODI match, he already had five centuries to his name and had become the fourth player to score three consecutive centuries in back-to-back ODIs.

The way he bats- strong through both off side and leg side, strong against short deliveries and a nightmare for spinners, always reminds me of the legendary Aussie Adam Gilchrist. De Kock was only 21 years old when he arrived at the big stage for South Africa and the form and promise he showed left everyone in awe.

His jaw-dropping performances, one after another, made him the first name in South Africa’s limited overs team at the top of the order. His Test debut followed in 2014 but he could not hold onto his position in the squad. A bad patch of form followed just when South Africa needed him to score the most. His poor run in the 2015 World Cup saw him scoring just one fifty and he soon looked like falling out of favour. But South Africa had faith in him and they backed him until he flourished again. This year especially has been fruitful for him as he looks like a completely mature and established batsman.

 

He has scored tons of runs in every format this year, and that too against tough oppositions like England and Australia. His abilities as a Test batsman came to fore when he scored his maiden Test century against England earlier this year in a winning cause for South Africa.

In the ongoing series against Australia down-under he has been the pillar of their batting with impressive half-centuries in both innings of the first Test. Of his keeping skills, it can be said that he is one of the best wicket-keepers at present. His acrobatic keeping is also a testament to his fitness.

He has shown what he can do in T20s with a century in this year’s IPL for the Delhi Daredevils and a handful of good performances in the World T20 as well. He tends to score quickly in Tests as well and doesn’t change his approach much, which is very similar to the legends like Gilchrist and Sehwag.

De Kock already has nearly 3000 runs to his name in both Tests and ODIs and he is only 24 years old. Time is on his side, and if he can continue to perform like this for another ten years, he will go on to shatter many records.

He has become a nightmare in a pretty short time for opposing bowlers & teams tend to make a plan to get his wicket first whenever they play South Africa. He may not yet be a part of the modern day ‘Fabulous Four’ of Kohli, Smith, Root and Williamson but it doesn’t seem far away when that club will be called the ‘Fabulous Five’ with the addition of de Kock. For now, he is rising, flourishing and getting ready to dominate World Cricket.

 

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Prasenjit, a techie by profession and Sports writer by passion, hails from the 'City of Joy'-Kolkat...

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