• De Kock needs time in middle

    Quinton de Kock must be backed to open the batting in the Proteas’ final pool match against the UAE.

    While the performance against Pakistan was disappointing, I believe the Proteas have found their strongest combination. I’d like to see them backing De Kock at the top of the batting order and  retaining the bowling expertise of Kyle Abbott, for Thursday’s pool match, and for a possible quarter-final.

    I can understand why there have been calls for De Kock to be replaced. He’s struggled to get a start in this tournament, and that has impacted on South Africa as a collective. But I still feel he may come right. If he is backed to open against the UAE and manages to spend an hour or more at the crease, he could find some form. And that will benefit South Africa as they head into the do-or-die stage of the competition.

    De Kock’s wicketkeeping has been very good, and it’s for that reason that he should remain in the South African side regardless of his batting position. Having said that, I don’t think it would be a wise to push him down to No 7 at this stage. He is yet to get a start in Australasia, and if he slides down to No 7 in the match against the UAE, he may not even get a bat.

    I’ve said it before, the Proteas must back seven specialist batsmen. That list includes De Kock as the designated wicketkeeper, and JP Duminy as middle order batsman who can contribute 10 overs with the ball. My view hasn’t changed over the course of the tournament. I believe that batting lineup has the ability to do the job. What needs to change in the coming weeks is the shot selection and temperament.

    In the match against Pakistan, Rilee Rossouw and Duminy were both out playing ambitious strokes. It was completely unnecessary, and put South Africa in a difficult position. I know that some batsman change their approach when they are playing on smaller grounds like Eden Park. They play shots that they would never play on the bigger grounds, because they expect to clear the boundary. It’s just bad cricket.

    Hashim Amla was guilty in the game against India, and Rossouw and Duminy also got it wrong in the recent game against Pakistan. The Proteas will play on another rugby ground this coming Thursday, namely the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. They can’t afford to make the same mistakes. They need to start preparing themselves, mentally and physically, for a quarter-final that should take place on a bigger ground in Australia.

    The pitch in Wellington should be very different to what the Proteas will experience in a play-off game across the Tasman. But I’d like to see the Proteas persisting with the same bowling attack. Vernon Philander hasn’t played much because of a hamstring injury, and Abbott has made his chance count. We may not see Abbott firing this week in Wellington, but on a bouncier Australian track, he will be a handful.

    The Proteas did well to limit Pakistan to 222 in Auckland. The most disappointing thing about the batting was the shot selection. They need to respond with a big win against the UAE, and take that momentum into the play-offs.

    Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.

    Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.

    Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
    Name of Bank: Standard Bank
    Account Number: 281 464 359
    Branch: Fourways Crossing
    Branch Code: 009 953
    Type of Account: Trust Account
    Ref: Mr G Pollock

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    Graeme Pollock