Proteas captain Quinton de Kock looks set to continue at No 5 in the batting order for the two upcoming Test matches against Pakistan.
That is where he has batted in each of South Africa’s last three Tests, with head coach Mark Boucher having explained at the start of the festive season series against Sri Lanka that De Kock was best suited to the middle-order.
But with the 28-year-old operating as the side’s wicketkeeper and now the captain, too, there have been some suggestions that the load on De Kock’s shoulders should be lessened by moving him down in the order once more.
Temba Bavuma operated as the No 6 in the Sri Lanka series and would be the likeliest option to shift up a place, while allrounder Wiaan Mulder is also considered good enough by many to perhaps bat in the top 6.
As De Kock suggested on Monday, though, people will always have their own ideas. “I’m alright batting at No 5, it just sounds like everyone else can’t decide whether I should bat No 5 or No 7 at the moment,” he told media from Karachi.
“I’m quite happy there and it’s probably just the noise from outside of our bubble, just commenting on where I should bat.
“If I’m batting at No 7, they’re going to want me to bat at No 5. If I’m batting at No 5, they’re going to want me to bat No 7.
“At the moment, I’m pretty settled at No 5 and I’m happy to be there.”
That, it appears, settles that. It is still interesting, however, to look at where De Kock has been most impactful from a batting perspective since he made his Test debut in 2014.
The first Test against Pakistan in Karachi on January 26 will be De Kock’s 50th for the Proteas and, as Sport24’s chief writer Rob Houwing suggested last week, this presents an opportunity for honest reflection for a man who is arguably South African cricket’s most important player presently.
In his 82 innings for the Proteas in Test cricket, De Kock has scored five centuries and 21 half-centuries at an average of 38.46 .
Staggeringly, all of De Kock’s centuries have come while batting at No 7 for the Proteas and his average in that position is almost 50. And while the numbers obviously do not tell the full story, there is no doubt that if De Kock is to bat regularly in the top order, he will need to improve his overall record in the top six.