Quinton de Kock: From 'Chubby' to baby-faced enforcer with bat
Former South Africa batsman Neil McKenzie is the seniormost player of Highveld Lions, the team based at the Wanderers. McKenzie is mentor to many, including Quinton de Kock.india Updated: Dec 12, 2013 01:03 IST
Former South Africa batsman Neil McKenzie is the seniormost player of Highveld Lions, the team based at the Wanderers. McKenzie is mentor to many, including Quinton de Kock.
De Kock was already being seen as the next big thing in South Africa cricket. And then India arrived. His three centuries on the trot is only confirming what everyone here already knew - his class as a batsman and his promise as a Proteas 'keeper.
His rapid rise belies the fact that he turns 21 only on December 17. He is still the baby for McKenzie. "When Quinton walked in as a little kid, we used to call him 'Tubby Taylor'. Tubby because he was a chubby kid, and Taylor because we likened him to former Australia captain Mark Taylor," recalls McKenzie, 38, who played 58 Tests and 64 ODIs. "He didn't like the nickname, and within two months, he had lost his chubbiness." The nickname has since changed to a tame Quinny.
While he has forced India to labour, de Kock has sent his home fans into raptures. Journalists find his innocent way of answering questions, often looking at skipper AB de Villiers for approval, really funny. And TV commentators and experts are having a ball cracking jokes about his surname.
The left-handed batsman has piled up 342 runs with three hundreds in a row, easing into the big shoes of Graeme Smith. And having relieved de Villiers as 'keeper, has also been very consistent behind the stumps.
That de Kock, who opens for Lions with McKenzie, has rapidly matured from an all-or-nothing batsman and has developed great understanding with de Villiers as well was seen on Wednesday when the pair resurrected the innings after early loss of wickets. "He is not innocent, don't be mistaken. He knows how to give it back," said McKenzie.
But De Kock is otherwise shy. A regular visitor to the Wanderers who watches him practice and knows him well says, "I don't know why, but he is very, very shy. I meet him every other day. Even then, he struggles to speak directly."
De Kock's rise has been rapid. At 15, he began attending practice at the Wanderers and soon landed a contract with the Lions. Its coach Geoff Toyana recalls, "He had a tough time in Sri Lanka just a few months back. But he started working in the nets and it is paying off. He would work for 4 to 5 hours even if there was no one; he would ring me and I'll be there."