Quinton de Kock believes he can still improve his game after winning five CSA Awards on Saturday night.
The CSA Awards at the Theatre on the Track in Kyalami served as an alarming reminder that it’s already been a year since Kagiso Rabada took a record six awards home at last year’s edition. While that record will probably never be broken, Quinton de Kock came pretty close, with the judges declaring him the integral figure in what’s been a successful season for the Proteas.
The meteoric rise of Rabada was just about all there was to celebrate last year, but this year became a little trickier to decide who was the nation’s best after a record ODI run and a single Test defeat, which saw the side rise to No 1 and No 2 in the rankings respectively. Usually three players are nominated for Cricketer of the Year. This year there were five.
In a season which saw him become the Test captain on a permanent basis and score 999 ODI runs, Faf du Plessis can probably count himself unlucky not to have walked away with any awards. De Kock’s five awards, however, did reinforce how exceptional he has been across the formats.
An enhanced reputation with the gloves aside, De Kock was the Proteas’ leading run-scorer in Tests, with the majority of his runs coming at No 7, and when his side were in trouble. At No 6 in the world, he’s South Africa’s highest-ranked Test batsman. And then there are the ODIs, second only to Du Plessis in the run-scoring charts, with his 178 in the first ODI against Australia setting the tone for the rest of the season.
It all culminated in five awards for the 24-year-old. The biggest prize of SA Cricketer of the Year followed the ODI and Test gongs, and clearly the judges’ sentiments were felt with De Kock winning the Fans Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year too.
With the media fronting De Kock after the awards, he was quick to point out where he could improve, instead of reflecting on the last 12 months.
‘It makes me enjoy the game more if I win individual accolades, but I just want to contribute, even if it’s just a run-out, I want to feel like I’ve done something to help the team,’ he said.
‘Sometimes my technique isn’t the best on slow decks,’ he continued. ‘Fast wickets are my game. I try and read what the bowlers do and play to that situation, but when the ball is turning excessively, I still have a lot to work on.’
The awards once again reinforced his growing reputation as being the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world since Australian legend Adam Gilchrist, with some high-profile figures having gone as far as to say that he’s better. When the nominations for ODI Cricketer of the Year were announced, we were reminded that he became the quickest wicketkeeper-batsman to 3 000 ODI runs, and one couldn’t help but immediately realise that meant he did it quicker than Gilchrist.
Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting got the ball rolling in that regard when the Proteas toured Australia in November last year. ‘He’s probably the closest keeper-batsman to Adam Gilchrist that we’ve seen since he retired,’ he said. Gilchrist has also weighed in since, by labelling De Kock a ‘genius’. When asked about this, De Kock was having none of it.
‘He was commentating when he said that and I was playing, so I didn’t hear it,’ De Kock said of Gilchrist’s comment. ‘I don’t know why he said that. The ones who have allowed me to grow as a player are the guys in my team such as Hash and AB. The shout-out should go to those guys.’
De Kock reaffirmed that he’s 100% fit and ‘just ready to play’. One can only imagine how much better he can become if he still thinks he can improve in certain areas. The judging for the next CSA Awards begins with the Proteas’ three-match ODI series against England at the end of the month.
For a full list of the awards, click HERE.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images