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ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA TESTS

De Kock justifying ‘Gilly’ comparisons

15 July 2017

South Africa's Quinton de Kock continued his fine form with another half-century on day one // Getty Images

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South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman performs with aplomb after being promoted to No.4

@StocksC_cricket
@StocksC_cricket

Chris Stocks is a freelance cricket writer based in London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and London Evening Standard.

Watching Quinton de Kock bat, it is easy to see why the South African is drawing comparisons with Australian great Adam Gilchrist.

De Kock had already lit up the opening match of this series against England at Lord’s with a sparkling first-innings half-century from the preposterous position of No.8.

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That was because South Africa had taken the option of sending in a nightwatchman on the first evening. Still, his position at No.7 was too low and that’s something South Africa rectified in this second Test by promoting him up to No.4.

It’s a move that worked well for them on day one at Trent Bridge, as de Kock produced another scintillating innings, this time posting 68 from 81 balls before he fell to the first ball after tea, bowled by Stuart Broad.

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De Kock had shared in a 113-run stand with Hashim Amla that had helped take South Africa from 2-66 early in the afternoon session to 2-179 by tea.

That was a period when those comparisons with Gilchrist, the game’s greatest wicketkeeper-batsman, did not seem outlandish.

Indeed, a look at the pair’s comparative figures shows just how closely De Kock is tracking the New South Welshman.

Gilchrist lit up Australia’s middle order during a 96-Test career that spanned the back end of his country’s period of dominance under Steve Waugh and then Ricky Ponting from 1999 to 2008.

He also himself found himself in temporary charge at times after being handed the vice-captaincy in 2000.

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But Gilchrist’s freakish talent with the bat will always be what he is remembered for – with his brutal but brilliant 57-ball century during the 2006-07 Ashes Test at the WACA still painfully seared into the collective memories of English cricket fans.

Gilchrist retired in 2008, his record of 5570 runs - including 17 hundreds - at an average of 47.60 testament to a man who redefined the role of the wicketkeeper in the modern era.

Almost every country in the world has attempted to find their own version of Gilchrist ever since.

However, de Kock might be the closest anybody has come.

This Test match in Nottingham is his 21st. He has 1470 runs at 50.68, including three hundreds.

After the same number of games Gilchrist had 1309 runs at 52.36 and, like De Kock, three hundreds.

Adam Gilchrist - Perth 2006

The figures of both at this stage of their respective careers are eerily similar. Like Gilchrist, de Kock, too, has an astonishing one-day international record, with 12 hundreds in 85 matches at the age of just 24.

Gilchrist ended his ODI career with 16 hundreds in 287 matches. De Kock, if he plays anything close to that number, will end up with many more.

There’s a reason why de Kock is nicknamed ‘Gilly’ by his South Africa team-mates.

Yet he is reluctant to get drawn into the comparisons himself, de Kock saying last year: “I don’t try to play like him, it’s just the way I play.

“I don’t see myself being like him, I just see the ball, hit the ball type thing, have my own certain game plan. So that’s the way I like to play.”

Most will say that’s exactly like Gilly himself. There may be a long way to go but if De Kock continues in this vein, he looks destined to join the Australian among the pantheon of the game’s greats.