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[OPINION] De Kock’s confidence knocked by 'England experiment'

South Africa’s mercurial wicket-keeper batsman, Quinton de Kock, has had a rough time with willow in hand for his country in Test match cricket, and many have raised an eyebrow on his place in the Test line-up heading into the series against the visiting Australians starting in March.

De Kock’s woes with the bat have been well documented, starting from the Proteas' dismal away series to England in the winter. De Kock was experimented with in a few batting positions in that series, including the pivotal position of number 4.

That strategy didn’t bear any positive fruits, in terms of runs, and crucially not towards his confidence with the bat.

Since his score of 68 against England in the first innings of the second Test at Nottingham, where he batted at number 4, De Kock has gone 14 innings without a 50 since and has reached double figures just once in his last five innings.

In the recently concluded three-match series against India, De Kock only contributed 71 runs with the bat in six innings, which included a bizarre four-ball innings in Centurion where three of those balls were edges to the boundary, and the dismissal came on the fourth ball.

A player of De Kock’s ability should not be tampered with and should always be nurtured to bring out the best of his natural instincts.

Experimenting with De Kock in England has done his confidence a disservice, and the Proteas selectors should consider restoring the former KES VII sensation to his preferred position of number seven.

Though De Kock has struggled with his batting form, his coach Ottis Gibson says that he is not worried about the young 'keeper.

“He will definitely be disappointed about not getting runs in this series, but like I said before, conditions were tough, and he got a proper examination, one that he needs to reflect on.”

“He is a key component of our team, his 'keeping behind the wickets was outstanding, but myself and Dale Benkenstein will have to sit down with him and see how best we can rebuild his confidence.”

Gibson also believes that the forthcoming ODI series against India can help unshackle the doubts that De Kock might have in his confidence and ability.

“He has a one-day series now and may come out and score three or four hundred, that’s the ability of the individual we’re are talking about here. There are no worries with regards to Quinton from my side.”

I hope that Gibson’s views on De Kock are realised and that he does regain his form in coloured clothing.

But when it comes to Test matches, a serious conversation about playing De Kock in the correct position needs to happen if we are going to see his brilliance when the Australians arrive.

Philasande Sixaba is a sports reporter at Eyewitness News.

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