We asked two of our SACricket staff members the following question: ‘Who will be the most valuable player for South Africa at the Cricket World Cup’. Here are their answers.
QUINTON DE KOCK
Whether the Proteas will be setting totals or chasing them, the clean-striking left-handed opener is the player who will set the tone for South Africa. He scores his runs quickly and is not afraid to go for his shots early on in his innings, taking on the fielders in the compulsory powerplay. De Kock gained his first experience of ODI conditions in Australia in November’s five-match series and, after starting slowly, ended with a bang in Sydney, hitting a 123-ball 107, including 14 fours. It was his sixth ODI ton in 35 innings and he averaged 43.58 after that series. The 22-year-old was the fastest to 1 000 ODI runs and he looks a special talent. Although the pace and bounce of Mitchell Johnson troubled him in Perth, he showed character to fight back and carry the attack to Australia. As a former baseballer he has an instinctive eye and fast hands through the ball, although he hits the ball in the air a lot: he was caught 22 times in his first 34 knocks when he was out. And with the wicketkeeper duties, De Kock has grown into an athletic and safe gloveman. He could play an important role behind the stumps too, whether standing back to Dale Steyn or up to the stumps for Imran Tahir. We know that if De Kock gets going, the Proteas will always be staring 300 runs in the face – and that’s enough to win most matches. His innings’ will set the platform for powerful Proteas batting displays. – Gary Lemke
AB DE VILLIERS
There can now be no contention to the assertion that AB de Villiers is the best batsman in the world, not only in the Proteas’ side. Always spoken of in glowing terms, De Villiers has now added incredible consistency to his game, making him a massive asset and formidable opponent in equal measure. His conventional stroke making is unmatched, but it is in his ability to make the unorthodox look ordinary where his true potency lies. Scoops and uppercuts for six are part of his repertoire as is his incredible ability to sit deep in his crease and hit would-be block hole deliveries for boundaries. He has no discernible weakness against any type of bowling or on any particular type of surface. De Villiers was the leading run-scorer in the series against Australia, banking 271 of them at an average flirting with 70 and a strike rate of 113. If there was one criticism of him it would be that his conversion rate of 50s to 100s was poor. He admitted that he had got out at critical times in tight contests but has committed to improving this facet of his game in a bid to amplify his value to his country even more. If De Villiers picks up where he left off Down Under and marries that with the drive to get through to three figures, the Proteas will be very hard to beat. – Ryan Vrede
This debate appears in the latest issue of SACricket magazine, currently on sale