Cricketers come in different sizes, shapes and shades. They are the over rated and the under rated, those who have a lot of hype built around them and those who are undemonstratively effective. Quinton de Kock is among those cricketers who are under rated and quietly explosive. He does not have a larger than life image, does not figure prominently in discussions, his game is not analyzed as much as some of the others who dominate the cricketing world. But in his own undemonstrative manner he has done more than his bit to see that South Africa stay at second spot just behind India in the Test rankings and among the top four in ODIs.

In the last few years even as the chief attention has been on Hashim Amla’s charming strokeplay, AB de Villiers’ pyrotechnics, and the emergence of a new crop of world class fast bowlers de Kock in his own way has frequently had the focus diverted to him. Indeed in the half a dozen years since he has been around the international circuit it has been difficult to keep him out of the headlines because of his work behind the stumps and in front of them and whether it is Tests or the shorter formats of the game. It is not every cricketer who is highly successful in all formats but de Kock is one of a handful.

But whenever his name crops up it is batting approach that is the subject of discussion for de Kock bats the same breezy manner in every format of the game and whatever the situation. This is a very rare quality but the number of times he has come to South Africa’s rescue is legion. The latest example is the ongoing Test against Sri Lanka at Port Elizabeth. He came in at 73 for four on a lively surface and just sailed into the bowling. He does not defuse a crisis with back to the wall defensive batting but by thrilling counter attacks and by the time he was eighth out at 216 he had hit 86 off 87 balls much of it with just the tail for company. But then this is not an isolated case; he has done it time and again.

A strike rate of 73 in Tests allied to a strike rate of almost 95 in ODIs sums up de Kock’s approach. Consistency is not a quality associated with this kind of swashbuckling batting but de Kock has got 13 hundreds in 101 innings in ODIs and an average of 44 makes him an unusually reliable opening batsman. And an average of 40 in 40 Tests to go along with this with four hundreds – almost every time in a crisis – makes de Kock one of South Africa’s most valuable players. Perhaps it is time for him to be the subject of some deserving hype.

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