Pressure on De Kock ahead of Australia ODI series


South Africa's Quin­ton de Kock claimed he had not felt under pressure as captain after a tense one-run win in a Twenty20 international against England earlier this month, reports AFP.

"I was still calm the whole way," he said, citing confidence in the knowledge his players understood if they stuck to the basics they could prevail in a tight finish.

De Kock's calmness has been tested considerably since then – and the challenge is set to be ratcheted up in a three-match one-day series against Australia, starting at Boland Park in the Cape Winelands on Saturday.

On the face of it, De Kock, 27, has been handed an almost impossible task.

Several of South Africa's most experienced players, including former captain Faf du Plessis, fast bowler Dale Steyn and consistent scorer Rassie van der Dussen, have been rested.

Steve Smith and David Warner, who returned to the scene of the sandpaper scandal in Wednesday's victory at Newlands retain their places.

Already this season, De Kock has carried the burden of being South Africa's best batsman as well as being wicketkeeper and skipper.

South Africa's crushing defeat in the third Twenty20 international against Australia earlier this week meant they have lost five out of six series across all formats since the start of their tour of India in September.

The only exception being a rain-affected one-day series against England.

During that time they have won only five out of 17 completed matches.

In four of those wins De Kock has been South Africa's top-scorer and in three of them he has been man of the match. He has been his country's leading run-scorer in five of the six series and the second-highest run-scorer in the other. As an opening batsman, De Kock has top-scored for his side in six out of ten white-ball matches.

When he fails, as he did when bowled in the first over by Mitchell Starc in the first and third T20 matches, the rest of the batting has crumbled.

Never entirely comfortable and seldom articulate in facing the media, De Kock struggled to explain Wednesday's loss. "I'm not too sure," he said. "It was just another blow-out."

"I'm still learning," he said on Wednesday. "There's a lot of things that I didn't see as a normal player. I just hope I can get better and start putting results on the board." De Kock repeated the reasoning of coach Mark Boucher in explaining the absence of players unlikely to be still pushing for places in the 2023 World Cup.

"Now is probably one of our better chances to give some of the younger guys an opportunity. The ODI World Cup is still a while away. Whether they take the chance or not is entirely up to them," he said.