India vs South Africa: ‘Kagiso Rabada is like South Africa’s bowling captain,’ Quinton de Kock
In Quinton de Kock, South Africa have found a man to shoulder a heavy responsibility—to bring a cricket team smarting from a near-humiliating exit from the World Cup and a spate of retirements, out of the murk.
De Kock has already begun well, drawing 1-1 against India in his debut series as T20 captain. The 26-year-old wicket-keeper batsman says that it was just the beginning of a long rebuilding process with just over a year to go for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
Hindustan Times spoke to De Kock about that process of forging a team out of new faces ahead of the first Test, and whether South African cricket is staring at a vacuum post the retirements of the likes of AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla.
You are leading a side that almost looks like a new unit.
Obviously back at home there are a couple of our senior guys, who have now retired. We have got a lot of new youngsters coming in. But the way I see it is that it also creates a lot of new opportunities for the rookies and gives the South African team a chance to showcase what we have on offer, apart from having those guys around. It’s always disappointing to lose a lot of the big names but it’s also a great thing to showcase what else we have. It’s only a good thing that such things have happened.
Do the retirements create a vacuum? Like what happened with Sri Lanka when the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara retired?
I don’t think it works to the extent it worked with them. I think we have a lot of upcoming talent coming through our system at the moment. We’ve got a quite a strong system, and there’s a lot of hope now at the moment, and in the future. The more opportunities you give to the youngsters, they are just going to grow in their position, just grow into better players and better people in general. I think there will be that void but we have to see what happens. Should be exciting.
How are you dealing with the captaincy role?
I think I’m pretty easy as a captain. I don’t worry too much as long as the team does the right thing and we as cricketers focus on the important things, just like the small things. We have to make sure we are disciplined, train wise and keep things simple. I kind of like to play my cricket in the same way I would like to lead the team.
As a captain, are you happy with the positives from a drawn T20 series?
Looking from the captain’s point of view, there has been a whole change of personnel. The way things work in the team, everything’s changed as a group collectively—from our preparation, our fitness, to our planning. It has created an environment where there are players who are hungry to get out there and play. Obviously, when players with that sort of mindset are present, only good things can come out. It was a two-match series. The first game we didn’t play to our best. Some of the players were still fresh from off season. Second game we showed what we can do and that was only from hard work.
Is South Africa looking at next year’s T20 World Cup as a chance for redemption after the disappointment of the ODI World Cup?
Obviously the T20 World Cup is big. It’s a great place to show the world what we have to offer in our country, that we can always rely on our youngsters just as much on the seniors that were before us. There’s still going to be a long buildup before the World Cup gets going. There’s going to be a bit more planning and hopefully by the time we go Down Under we peak to our potential.
How do you see Kagiso Rabada and David Miller’s role in the team. They have been around for quite some time now.
As they grow in the team, they are both being seen as seniors. They don’t have to do anything special, just be themselves. People who walk into the team look to them as leaders anyway. I think Miller has led from the front very well, especially on the field, the way he speaks to the team. I think KG is also holding his role now almost as the head of the bowling department. He has taken up the responsibility and has done very well. I am sure it will keep us in good stead in the future. KG is now our young bowling captain almost and he will continue with that in the future.