He made his Test debut in 2014, going in and out of the team but it was in 2016 that he truly came into his own. He hit five consecutive 50s, which culminated with a match winning 100 against Australia at Perth. He came into the series against England with an average of 59.38. His consistency led to SA promoting the young wicket-keeper to number 4 spot in the team after JP Duminy was dropped owing to his horrendous run in Tests. Although, it would be a tad too early to judge him, but he has managed to score only 91 runs in the last two Tests batting at that crucial position.
He has scored just two fifties in six innings against England so far in the series. The fact that South African skipper Faf Du Plessis himself is out of form and star player AB De Villiers is absent has compounded South Africa’s woes. Du Plessis has crossed the 20-run mark just once in 4 occasions.
He averages 48.64 as captain but in this series his average reads only 20.75.
South Africa will be needing both these players to regain some sort of form if they are to challenge the home team and not lose their first series in England since 1998. The Proteas' stupendous away record will also be dented – since 2006 they have lost only one series away from home, against India in 2015-16.
However, they won’t be playing at their favourite ground as their record at Old Trafford is not among the best. South Africa has managed to win only once in their last nine meetings while England’s last defeat at the ground came way back in 2001 to Pakistan.
This shows how big the stakes are come Friday, and South Africa will need their star batsmen led by De Kock and Du Plessis to stand up and be counted!
First Published: August 3, 2017, 4:44 PM IST