Proteas keeper and opening batsman Quinton de Kock was in a relaxed mood ahead of South Africa’s must-win clash with New Zealand on Wednesday, writes DANIEL GALLAN in Birmingham.
Despite labelling the game as a ‘quarter-final’ and admitting that the clash at Edgbaston is a ‘big game’, De Kock was measured in addressing the media.
‘We have to go out there and keep our heads and play freely,’ he said. ‘We know how good New Zealand are playing. They’re a big team in World Cups. They always seem to step up.’
The Kiwis have triumphed in four of the previous World Cup encounters between the two nations. This history juxtaposes their head-to-head record in which South Africa dominates with an 8-2 advantage in bilateral ODI series.
‘If I knew I would tell you,’ De Kock said in response to a question concerning this disparity. ‘The way I see it, they’ve only beaten us once [in the 2015 semi-final in which he was involved]. We’re going into tomorrow with a clean slate and we’re not concerned with how many times they’ve beaten us.’
De Kock showed signs of his potential greatness with a breezy 68 off 72 balls against Afghanistan this past weekend. He will need to find a higher gear against the likes of Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson who have been devastating with the new ball in a combination of swing and seam.
‘We’ve played against them so many times and we know what we’re going to get,’ De Kock said, downplaying the contest. ‘It’s about the whole game. I don’t think it all depends on what happens with the new ball.’
In 12 ODIs against New Zealand, De Kock has yet to score a hundred. His top contribution was 80 not out in a washed-out game in Auckland in 2014, which boosts his average of 36.63 against the Black Caps, down from his career figures of 45.6.
With the big names in England, Australia and India scoring hundreds, De Kock knows that he needs to step up. Despite this, he is conscious not to put too much pressure on himself.
‘The last World Cup I did exactly that,’ he said. ‘I want to just make sure I go out there and enjoy my cricket.’
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