Quinton de Kock is an archetypal wicketkeeper-batsman — involved, focused, chirpy and intense. Always on the move. Always making a point, a tactical difference that distinguishes his duty on the field. There is not a moment of respite, not a moment to think of himself. Team, bowlers, fielders. They are constantly on his mind, mates and opponents. A brilliant take is just part of the job. A miss can cost the match. But what of the catch that swings the game?
Wicketkeepers are not supposed to make mistakes. Like robots they carry on, quelling all emotions, sharing their success with the rest, but not the setbacks that leave them forlorn figures.
It can get crushingly lonely out there. “Yeah, it’s quite lonely. You only have one keeper. You train by yourself. You are your own coach. Pretty unforgiving job. Actually people don’t understand how hard it is at times. There’s quite a difference when you go from one wicket to another. It’s not just about catching a ball. It takes a lot of strain, on the legs, on the back. It’s quite hard,” says de Kock, the South African wicketkeeper in Delhi Daredevils’ ambitious IPL campaign.
With an experience of eight Tests, 57 ODIs and 29 T20s, Quinton de Kock is quite philosophical about his vocation. “I think it’s all the same actually. You’re always in the game in any format of the game. You’re always involved. You’re always expecting to get every ball. Doesn’t matter which format. You’re always going to be involved, be part of the ball. As a keeper you’re always involved and it’s quite nice if you ask me.”
Is it any different in the three formats of the game? “Not really. It’s all the same. It’s a matter of when things happen. You’re expecting a stumping, a nick anytime of the day. There’s no tempo to it. No definiteness to it.”
Many keepers err in concentration. It is a tough job, probably the toughest on the cricket field. For de Kock it is not. He just slips into the role effortlessly. “I have been doing it so long now it comes naturally. To always watch the ball. I train a lot — my catching, my foot movement. Watching the ball, because you have been doing it for so long, becomes sort of instinct. For me, it’s not too hard.”
Is it different in Test cricket compared to the rest? “It is a little bit,” de Kock, agrees. “The field setting, the angles of the fielders. I think that plays the main part. In Tests most fielders are in the slips or in catching positions. In 20-20 the fielders are all over the show. Managing that area of the game is the main thing.”
Is there a definite role for de Kock? “As a batsman,” says de Kock. “I feel I am the leader. We have a quite young batting unit. As a keeper I have to manage and help out Zak (Zaheer Khan) with field placings, make sure we’re good in the field in pressure situations. That way I become the key as a keeper and an opening batsman.”
How does he tackle it? “I always love it,” he smiles. “If I didn’t I wouldn’t be playing.”
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