WUNDERKIND Quinton de Kock is licking his lips at the prospect of taking guard at the Wanderers in Friday’s decisive fourth one-day international against England on a pitch famed for its pace and bounce.
With the ball carrying deliciously under the SuperSport Park floodlights on Tuesday night, De Kock gunned his second century of the series and looks set to continue in similar vein in Johannesburg.
The 23-year-old, who struggled last year, said he focused on keeping his batting simple — which showed in the 96 balls it took for him to get to 100.
He eventually finished with 135 runs from 117 balls, combining well with fellow centurion Hashim Amla, before spinner Adil Rashid claimed his prized wicket.
“I wasn’t thinking too much,” said De Kock.
“It was a good enough wicket: you could bowl half a decent ball, but it just had to go over the inner ring and it would go for four.
“It was about setting myself up from the outset and playing on from there.
“I don’t know what to expect at the Wanderers, but when I get there I’m just going to do the same thing as I did on Tuesday night and in Bloemfontein.
“I’ll keep things simple and play the ball as I see it and on its merit. That’s about it, really.
“That’s been the key for me, especially when I’ve scored big runs.
“I’ve tried to not play rash shots, unless we are chasing big totals.
“We’ve played on good wickets recently, so we didn’t need to play high-risk shots.
“When I was going through my bad patch, I was very superstitious, but when I went on the tour to India I was playing freely and so I didn’t care about my superstitions.
“I had over 20 things, like putting the right pad on before the left, I had to be sitting down, putting my helmet on before everything and a whole lot of stuff. I’d scrape my mark with my left foot. But I’m done with that now.”
De Kock’s fearlessness, which saw him get three centuries against India in 2013 at home and two in the victorious one-day series against them away last year, has returned.
With the Proteas 2-1 down in the five-match series, De Kock looks primed to add a third series century. He is hard to stop when in this mood. But since the end of last year’s disastrous World Cup, England have proved the most difficult team to put away in the one-day format.
They have posted totals of more than 300 six times in the last eight matches they have batted first and chased down 299 by Australia at home last year.
Joe Root has continued his exquisite Test form and Ben Stokes remains irrepressible.
De Kock dared them to do their worst at the ground famous for the world’s highest run-chase.
“As a team, we know we can score big totals,” he said.
“We’ve gotten to 400 a couple of times in the recent past and I reckon we have a good chance of chasing down 400 (again) one day — hopefully we never have to do it,” he said.