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Quinny’s in a happy place and that’s good news for Proteas

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Quinton de Kock made some runs, took some superb catches and was back to his best during the Proteas’ recent Test series against the West Indies.

Proteas’ wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock speaks to a reporter after being named man of the series at the end of day four of the second Test against the West Indies at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground on Monday
Proteas’ wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock speaks to a reporter after being named Man of the Series at the end of day four of the second Test against the West Indies at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground on Monday. Picture: Randy Brooks, AFP

JOHANNESBURG – The cheeky Quinton de Kock is back. Laughing at himself, his teammates, cracking signs after scoring a hundred.

He made runs, took some superb catches, got cramps and then gave a television interview where he said he hadn’t a clue how or why he did it. “Go ask the coaches, they’re the ones that get us ready,” he smiled after receiving his Man of the Series award following the Proteas’ 2-0 series triumph in which he scored a career best 141 not out, in the first Test, then 96 in the second and took six catches.

The confused player, who seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders in Pakistan had vanished. In St. Lucia it was the De Kock of laughs; after returning to the field during the West Indies innings on Saturday having received treatment for cramp, De Kock seemed to forget his left leg was quite ready yet and in reaching down to pick up the ball, pulled up short, in pain and exclaimed: “Fellas, f*&^ it’s great to be back out here.”

Quinton de Kock of South Africa celebrates his century during day 2 of the 1st Test between South Africa and West Indies at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on June 11, 2021. Picture: Randy Brooks, AFP

On Monday as the the second Test wound down and Lungi Ngidi completely missed a ball that flew passed him De Kock bellowed from behind the stumps: “Don’t worry Lungi, I’ll get it.”

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“He’s chat around the changeroom is funny, it’s lighthearted and when Quinny is in that space it will always reflect in the way that he goes out and plays,” Proteas head coach, Mark Boucher said on Monday night.

“Quinny’s been through a tough time of late,” Boucher remarked. Following the Proteas’ tour to Pakistan, where De Kock was the Test team’s captain, he asked Cricket SA to give him a break.

It was later classified as a ‘mental break’ although as De Kock stated after scoring that hundred in the first Test, those were CSA’s words not his. “I wasn’t mentally tired from cricket, I was just tired of (Covid) ‘bubbles’. I just had enough of them. It started with the IPL last year, and then it was just the whole time,” De Kock said.

A lover of the outdoors, be it on a boat fishing, or heading to the bush to help with rhino conservation, De Kock found the constant need to live and prepare in the restricted ‘bio secure environments,’ difficult.

The Carribean ‘bubble’ hasn’t been as extreme, with the players allowed to wander around in the luxury hotel in St. Lucia. Freeing his body, has liberated De Kock’s mind, and although he insisted the captaincy wasn’t a problem, it was noticeable in St, Lucia how, freed of those responsibilities and being able to focus on his own game again, he played in the manner that makes him a truly dangerous player.

“ He came into this series, not with the amount of runs he’d have liked, but the way he’s been hitting the ball in the nets and the way he is off the field has been fantastic,” Boucher added. “The (141 not out, he scored in the first Test) – the outfield here is very, very slow – that could easily have been 200, and that 96 was worth 130.

“He was the x-factor in this series but there was a lot of hard work by the batters up front, to get the bowlers to their third and fourth spells and when you get an x-factor player like Quinny, he will take the game on and take it away from the opposition, it is very nice to be on his side.”

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“I’m very happy with Quinny, the way he batted and kept – he was very neat behind the stumps and took some great catches. I’m happy that Quinny is in a very good space. It bodes well for Proteas cricket,” said Boucher.

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