There haven’t been many good days this summer for Proteas captain Quinton de Kock, but yesterday was arguably the worst.
Day 2 of 5: South Africa 220 (D Elgar 58; Yasir Shah 3/54)
Pakistan 308/8 (Fawad Alam 109, Faheem Ashraf 64, Azhar Ali 51)
JOHANNESBURG – Yesterday was a bad day for Quinton de Kock. In fact there haven’t been many good days this summer for the South African captain, but yesterday was arguably the worst.
South Africa batted poorly in their first innings and were punished for that inadequate performance by Pakistan on the second day of the first Test in Karachi.
Fawad Alam produced the kind of strategic control that the South African batsmen failed to show on the opening day to put the home side ahead.
For the first two sessions of play, South Africa’s bowlers performed very well. Pakistan’s run rate was kept in check, there were some good plans to both Fawad and Azhar Ali making for some hard, grafting Test match play.
There were errors – Dean Elgar missed a difficult chance offered at slip when Fawad was on 35 – but that was an understandable if ultimately painful miss.
The bad mistakes came from De Kock in his use of the Decision Review System (DRS).
The first error came in the second over of the day when he asked for a review of an lbw call after Azhar was given not out.
The ball struck the pad first, but it was outside the line of off-stump. It was a low percentage referral and it looked desperate, something the Pakistan batsmen would have noted.
The other review was worse – Azhar again hit on the pad this time by George Linde and given not out – and you could tell from De Kock’s face and the way in which he made the signal to review that he was at best ‘40-60’ about doing so, but he went ahead anyway.
Again at that stage the day was evenly poised – it was tough cricket, and again it was another sign of his desperation, which would have come as a boost to the Pakistanis.
The third review was worse still, the ball clearly missing the leg stump and it appeared De Kock got talked into sending the decision to the television official by his bowler Lungi Ngidi.
Mistakes happen with the DRS, but these were bad ones by the South African captain. Coupled with his ill-judged shot on the first day that led to his dismissal, then the weird decision to bowl Aiden Markram with a 10-over old second new ball when Lungi Ngidi had only bowled eight overs all day and the dropped catch off Kagiso Rabada’s bowling that gave Faheem Ashraf a life on 21 – and it all added up to a bad Test match for the South African captain so far.
Pakistan were able to build on their foundation created by Fawad’s fabulous century, to earn an 88-run lead by stumps on the second day.
De Kock and Cricket SA, especially Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, chairman of selectors Victor Mpitsang and head coach Mark Boucher, will continue to endure talk of how De Kock is overburdened this summer.
The Test captaincy, handed to him – and which he is reluctant to do – this season, may be a temporary assignment, but it looked yesterday, especially, that it was one item too many for him to bear.
They’ve tried to create a structure around him to relieve him of some of the burden, but that structure may need to be reviewed or a more drastic decision needs to be made.
De Kock is far too important a player for South African cricket to sacrifice, especially now with a Test team in a rebuilding phase and so much crucial limited overs cricket on the horizon.
There are three days left in the Karachi Test, enough time for De Kock to still make a major impact.
But yesterday offered worrying signs about the remainder of the season. Hopefully the management has a Plan B that can be engaged at a moment’s notice.