Quinton de Kock received his education at the prestigious King Edward VII School in Northern Johannesburg. The school has nurtured and shaped many cricketing personalities like Graeme Smith, Neil McKenzie and Ali Bacher.
Quinton was known as a bit of a cricket buff since his school days and he had to be dragged off the field by teachers at times. He got his opportunity to focus purely on cricket when, in late 2009, Grant Morgan, the then coach of Highveld Strikers, the feeder team for the Lions First Class Franchise, showed Quinton a way out.
In Quinton’s own words, “Morgs wanted me to make the step up to professional cricket and I told him if he could get me out of school I was in”. A young de Kock made his first class debut at the age of 17 and made scores of 9 and 6. However, he improved his performance in the next four games played and averaged 65 in them at a staggering strike rate of 111. It was the time, de Kock and his family decided to purely focus on cricket as a career for the 17 year old sensation.
In the 2010-2011 season, de Kock made his debut for Lions Franchise. A year later, he turned heads around the world with a phenomenal run at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup where he was the fourth highest run scorer. Some time later, he also played an instrumental role in helping Lions lift the Momentum One Day Cup after 5 long years. By this time, de Kock was already compared to the likes of Adam Gilchrist.
The 2013 ODI series against India and subsequent success:
A very important highlight of de Kock’s career came against India in a three match ODI series in December 2013. De Kock scored 135 runs against India in the first match, at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. He followed it with another ton in the second match in Durban. In the third game, he struck another century to become the fifth person to achieve the feat of three consecutive ODI centuries, after Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar, Herschelle Gibbs and AB De Villiers. He was awarded Player of the Series for a phenomenal performance.
In August 2014 while playing against Zimbabwe, De-Kock became the joint quickest to reach 1000 runs in ODI Cricket and shared the honour with Vivian Richards, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pieterson. He received ‘Player of the Series’ award as South Africa comprehensively beat Zimbabwe 3-0 in the bilateral tournament.
The good times could not continue as expected as De Kock failed miserably in the World Cup 2015 down under. He averaged just 20 in the eight games he played. His on-field performance was coupled with controversies - he was fined 75 percent of his match fee after shoulder barging Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal.
As a result of continuous failures, de Kock was dropped from the Test Squad and was replaced by Dane Vilas. At this stage, if you looking on Playersbest he would not be featured anywhere. According to de Kock, “I was heartsore and angry, I was really emotional. It felt like the first time you get dumped by your girlfriend. It was the first time cricket made me feel like that. I stopped training for a little bit and completely turned my back on the sport. I needed to reset the batteries.”
Come Back, Success and Captaincy:
The period of slump did not last very long as de Kock re-appeared in national colours against England at Centurion Test in 2016. De Kock announced his presence on the international circuit with a century in the match. He displayed courage and determination in the Centurion knock. It was followed with two more ODI centuries against England and there was no looking back for the youngster.
All the doubt regarding de Kock’s presence in the national setup were evaporated when the team toured Australia in late 2016. During a camp, players had gathered around a TV to watch off spinner Nathan Lyon. This is when de Kock commented that he will hit the off spinner backward of square. Such was the confidence he had on his skills that the same feat was exercised on the pitch in the game. The strategy had worked wonders as de Kock scored 97 runs off 115 balls bowled by Nathan Lyon without being dismissed once.
In early 2020, Quinton de Kock was made captain of the Proteas cricket team in all three formats. The decision was taken after South Africa’s dismal outing in the 2019 World Cup and considering the long term plans for the team. De Kock has led the side with utmost clarity and he looks at ease with the role he is vested with.
A bright prospect in 2021:
De Kock is considered to be one of the most gifted players in world, in all formats of the game. His ability to pick the length of the ball is unmatchable. He wants to be remembered as a great player and his hunger for success keeps him motivated.
Proteas have recently registered a clean sweep in a Test Series against Sri Lanka and they will look to carry on a dominant run against Pakistan in the on-going series. They have lost the first game of the series but under the vibrant captaincy of de Kock, there is all the possibility in the world for them to make a strong come back.
Quinton de Kock will play a key role in South Africa’s success stories in the upcoming tournament and he is certainly one player to look out for in 2021.