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Going with his gut

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“There are a lot of different things that can happen out there. I will do a little bit of homework every now and again”

“Street-smart” seems to be the new buzz word among the Proteas.

Acting director of cricket Graeme Smith used the term to describe Quinton de Kock upon his appointment as the Proteas new ODI skipper this week. Now, De Kock himself has called on his players to become “street-smart”.

It certainly is a deliberate move away from the formulaic space in which South African teams have traditionally operated. Former ODI captain Faf du Plessis was always keen to move his team into different spaces for them best to express themselves, but sometimes he too was held back by the intrinsic safety-first nature of many of the players.

But in De Kock they now have a captain that relies purely on instinct. His batting philosophy remains “see ball, hit ball” and his leadership style does not veer too far from that mantra either.

De Kock’s captaincy CV at international thus far only entails two ODIs in Sri Lanka and two T20Is in India which is too small a sample size to comment accurately on his credentials at the highest level. But at the Cape Town Blitz, who De Kock leads in the Mzansi Super League, it is clear that the copybook is not always followed directly to script.

“What I see out there dictates how you play the game,” De Kock said at the Wanderers yesterday ahead of the fourth and final Test against England. “On a slow deck you can’t just think you can nick a guy off. Sometimes you need catches in front of the wicket.

“There are a lot of different things that can happen out there. I will do a little bit of homework every now and again.

“Most of the time, I keep it pretty ‘street-smart’ when we’re out there. I would also enjoy it if the guys become ‘street-smart’. We don’t always have to play according to a certain plan.

“There will be some sort of plan and homework. There is always a Plan A and Plan B, but if those two don’t work I like to come up with things on the field.

“Sometimes (in) different situations you have to make decisions on the go when you are in the heat of everything.”

De Kock’s development as a captain has certainly been aided through playing alongside Du Plessis, who is one of South Africa’s all-time most successful ODI skippers.

Du Plessis may have taken a few body blows during the World Cup last year, but his ODI win percentage remains at an impressive 71 percent. Equally, he remains the only ODI captain in history to lead his team to a 5-0 whitewash over the mighty Australia.

“What I have learnt from Faf is the amount of patience he’s created and developed over the years with the players.

“He’s been with a lot of high-profile players and guys with a lot of opinions and to have the patience to deal with that as a captain.

“I think it’s grown him as a person. I’ve seen that from the side, standing next to him as keeper. That has helped me with one or two things on the field and off the field. I have learnt that from him.

“That’s a key thing,” De Kock said.