Cape Town - Some would say he’s very comfortably picked the lock into the regular national one-day set-up anyway ... but Quinton de Kock is looking to threaten further milestones before he gets the key of the door.
The left-handed Lions sensation turns 21 on December 17, the day before the Proteas’ Test series against India begins at the Wanderers.
He will play no part in that occasion, as the SA selectors on Monday predictably stuck with the tried-and-trusted for the time being in that format, using the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy in naming their squad.
It seems only a matter of time before he breaks into the five-day arena as well, but for the moment De Kock should only continue his dazzling development as a limited-overs force for the Proteas both as opening batsman and wicketkeeper.
He has one more ODI before that 21st birthday, and is in such good touch that adding a third century in as many matches in the dead-rubber clash at SuperSport Park on Wednesday cannot be ruled out (perhaps his most daunting obstacle is a grim weather forecast at this stage rather than the world champions’ hitherto erratic attack).
Should he somehow pull that off, he would swell to five an illustrious quartet of batsmen to have previously achieved three tons on the trot: Pakistanis Zaheer Abbas (1982/83) and Saeed Anwar (1993) and compatriots Herschelle Gibbs (2002) and captain AB de Villiers (2010).
Gibbs got 116 against Kenya, 116 not out against India and 153 against Bangladesh in that golden trot for him, while De Villiers registered 114 not out and 102 against India and 102 against West Indies in his own bonanza eight years later.
De Kock has already -- courtesy of his 135 in Johannesburg and 106 in Durban against India to add to his maiden century against Pakistan in the UAE -- become only the fourth batsman in ODIs to hit three or more double-figure scores for his country before turning 21.
But his achievement is arguably the most credible of the lot because his knocks have all come against top-tier nations.
The leader with four thus far is Ireland’s Paul Stirling, for instance, although three of those centuries have come against co-minnows Canada, the Netherlands and Scotland.
There have been three centuries each for Bangladeshis Tamin Iqbal (against Ireland, Zimbabwe and England) and Shahriar Nafees (all against Zimbabwe).
In Sunday’s thumping win at Kingsmead to clinch the series early, De Kock earned another tidy milestone as he became the fifth player in ODI history to both strike a century and claim four dismissals in an innings.
He joins Alec Stewart (England), Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan) and two men also taking part in the current series, the Proteas’ De Villiers – against Bangladesh at Potchefstroom in October 2010 -- and his Indian counterpart as captain MS Dhoni.
Thanks to his successive tons against the World Cup holders, De Kock’s batting average is heading north at a rate of knots after only 15 ODI appearances – it is now 42.66.
Any bets against that improving further at Centurion?
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