JOHANNESBURG – Who’s the Proteas back-up keeper?
Late in Wednesday’s second One-Day International at SuperSport Park, Quinton de Kock left the field to tend to his bruised fingers – the result of catching 145km/h missiles from Kagiso Rabada and Co – leaving David Miller to don the wicket-keeping gloves.
In all the chatter about World Cup squads, little consideration has been given to what happens if De Kock gets hurt while keeping or injures himself in pre-match warm-ups.
Well, here it is: Miller will take the gloves. Or, as De Kock revealed later, Rassie van der Dussen could too.
It’s a crucial component of the squad. During the Pakistan series, captain Faf du Plessis revealed that South Africa were still weighing up taking a back-up keeper to England.
Heinrich Klaasen was viewed as that man, and was given 14 chances to stake a claim.
Sadly for him, after a very good start against India last summer, he’s just not been able to score with the requisite heft nor consistency.
He played himself out of contention.
At domestic level, youngsters like Sinethemba Qeshile and Kyle Verreynne have impressed, but their inexperience rules them out at this stage.
So, the selectors’ thinking has changed.
They have been looking within the squad, and with Van der Dussen having strongly pressed his claims for a World Cup spot this summer, he and Miller are being viewed as stand-in wicket-keepers in the case of an emergency.
De Kock’s thoughts on whether Miller’s presence behind the stumps on Wednesday meant the selectors had made up their minds about a back-up wicket-keeper were typically blunt.
“Bru, I don’t know. I’m not a selector, I’m not anybody. I’m just a player.”
Earlier this season, Titans coach and former Proteas keeper Mark Boucher was at one of the Proteas’ training sessions, working on wicket-keeping drills with Miller.
Van der Dussen has done the job at provincial and franchise level for the Highveld Lions, so it’s not completely foreign to him either.
“Dave Miller and Rassie van der Dussen have been working on their keeping, and I try and help where I can,” De Kock said about the assistance he’s also been providing to his teammates.
“But it’s very much for an emergency case, say in the middle of a game, if something happens.”
Were a long-term injury to curtail De Kock’s World Cup, South Africa would follow ICC and World Cup tournament protocols and be able to fly a new wicket-keeper into the squad.
De Kock said leaving the field on Wednesday evening was just a precaution.
“It’s all good. It’s the usual finger ‘jobs’. Over time as a keeper, you’re always going to get something here and there in the finger.
“I was just looking after myself before the World Cup.”
Catching Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje on Wednesday was tough work. All three were pushing the speed gun beyond 140km/h, and television cameras picked up De Kock looking uncomfortable at times trying to catch the ball.
“He gives my fingers quite a beating, but he’s given me a lot of dismissals,” De Kock said of Rabada, who picked up his 100th ODI wicket on Wednesday.
“Tonight he bowled with a lot of heat, I think he scared one or two of their batsmen. It doesn’t help a batsman that a guy can bowl 150 with swing.
“He was always going to get a hundred wickets, and hopefully he gets 300 more.”
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