South Africa v India, 3rd ODI, Centurion December 11, 2013

Gibbs sees a bit of himself in fearless de Kock

On a day when Quinton de Kock joined elite company with a third successive century, one of those who had managed the feat before him, Herschelle Gibbs, applauded the young batsman for his carefree method of play

When Quinton de Kock was on 99, he decided he was in a hurry. He charged down the track to Mohammad Shami and swung hard. Luckily for him, it didn't take the edge but ended up being mistimed down the track. There was a collective gulp at SuperSport Park from all but one man. Herschelle Gibbs was beaming.

"Look - he's not even interested in stats," Gibbs, who was part of one of the commentary teams, told ESPNcricinfo. "Others would have played a more conservative shot. But at least he wants to do something different."

A delivery later, de Kock tucked one away on the leg side to bring up his third consecutive century. Only Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, AB de Villiers and Herschelle Gibbs had managed that feat before him.

The man on air, Mluleki Ntsabo, reeled off the elite list de Kock had joined and when he got to Gibbs' name, Sunil Gavaskar fist bumped the South African, interrupting his soft applause. "It's out with the old and in with the new," Gibbs bellowed. For the first time since he last turned out for South Africa in May 2010, it sounded like he actually believed those words.

Gibbs has not retired from international cricket and he doesn't let people forget that. Just last month, in an interview with the local press agency, Gibbs reiterated his desire to play at top level. "I'd still like to play for South Africa... I know what I can offer and what I am capable of," he said then.

Fearless cricket is what Gibbs has always advocated and is the thing he believed he could to contribute to an outfit he has often criticised for being too formulaic. Gibbs held that up as the primary reason South Africa have failed to win a World Cup so far, and what he has repeatedly said they need to change if they are to be successful in future events. He usually put himself forward as the man who could lead that strategy but today, he handed the baton to someone else. Someone who reminds him a little bit of himself.

"He also doesn't think a lot," Gibbs joked. "He is more of an instinctive player. Which is what a lot of 20-year-olds are. I haven't seen a lot of him but I know he has got all the shots. Now he's putting the pieces together."

What impresses Gibbs about de Kock is his carefreeness at the crease, something South Africa are trying to keep under some control. That's why a senior player reminds him to "take it easy" at the end of most overs. De Kock has mostly heeded the advice and reined in the urge to whack everything that comes his way into next week.

That was on display today more than usual when he saw off a controlled opening spell of swing from Shami and more discipline from the other two Indian pacers than they have shown in the series so far. "We saw him bat uncharacteristically for the first 40 runs," Gibbs said. "He kept the big shots in the bag, which was a good thing to see at his age. And then he rode his luck."

De Kock was dropped twice - on 37 and 43 - but did not let that affect the way he played. He had AB de Villiers to run singles with and was allowed some aggression, particularly off Virat Kohli.

Once he passed the fifty mark, de Kock converted the knock into a triple-digit score again to keep his record at 100%. He played the drive and pull that he is making his name on, but also continued to charge all the bowlers and punish half volleys.

"His shot selection is really good," Gibbs said. "But his power play is as good as his touch play, which is what you need to score hundreds. He likes the game going forward and is not shy to hit boundaries even in the middle period. He has got all the shots and all the understanding. The more he plays, the more he will learn."

Gibbs predicted de Kock will continue to keep Graeme Smith out of the side and will be one the key players in South Africa's 2015 World Cup campaign. Gibbs hopes de Kock does not focus that far ahead just yet, however, but concentrates on more immediate matters instead.

"Who is the next one-day series against?" Gibbs asked. When he was informed South Africa are not scheduled to play any 50-overs cricket before taking on Zimbabwe next July, he only had one thing on his mind. "He could make it four in four," he said, referring to hundreds.

"I almost did it," he remembered. Gibbs' three consecutive hundreds started at the 2002 Champions Trophy when he raised his bat against Kenya and India. In the home series which followed against Bangladesh he scored 153 off 131 balls and saw an opportunity to do it again in Benoni but with South Africa chasing just 155, he ended unbeaten on 97. "We ran out of runs," he said, with a tinge of regret that soon gave way to smile.

So does Gibbs have any advice for de Kock if he finds himself in a similar situation? "No, I don't really know him that well. I just chatted with him briefly on the plane from Johannesburg to Cape Town after the first Twenty20 against Pakistan. We didn't speak about too much," Gibbs confessed. "He didn't ask my advice. He doesn't need it."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    I hope cricket fans never ever see anything remotely associated to Gibbs in De Kock. From what I have seen of the kid in the three ODIs, this kid is a superb cricketer, very mature for his age and he has an excellent mentor for him in Hashim. The Kid seems to be hungry and has a very level head on his head. None of the above characteristics were ever seen in Gibbs. It used to be that legends used that phrase "i see something of my self in that player". Gibbs, you wasted your precious talent in more ways than one. Other than THAT INNINGS IN THAT ODI against the Aussies, I cannot remember anything of you.

  • Gerald on December 13, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    @ Jose Puliampatta - Smith is scoring a lot of runs still in Test cricket. Alviro Petersen is the one that will be replaced. Just get your facts straight.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    Gibbs' rather mediocre average of 36 in nearly 250 ODIs speaks volumes as to the success of this carefree cricket. Gibbs had more natural talent dripping out of him than any of his peers, but will go down in history as 'n swashbuckling rebel who never quite lived up to his potential.

    QdK could actually come good on his talent and become so much more...

  • Dummy4 on December 12, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    I m a big Fan of Gibbs supreme talented guy , De-Kock is no where near to him . De-kock lacks footwork to remain in long run . he plays mostly backfoot , so he ll struggle when he comes to slow and low pitches in India .Gibbs is very agile in these terms , his records speak volume .

  • Dummy4 on December 12, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    So friends, just ODI series is compleated. In ODIs we can say about Indian batsmen looking at test series ahead, only Dhoni & Rohit showed some positive signs about their performances. In furst ODI Dhoni scored a fighting knock of 50+ and in both ODIs Rohit definately showed nice approach against Steyn & co. In first ODI he handled Steyn very carefully which is very important specially within no time from Wankhede Stadium he were facing Worlds fastest bowler on worlads one of the fastest wicket. But he kept his cool and didnt throw his wicket. Unfortunately he was run out in first. In secind ODI he played another confident inning of 19 runs and was caught out brillientely. We can say Shikhar & Virat still hasnt adjusted themselves in SA. But we can hope, as bith are brillient batsmen and come out with a brillent knock in tests. According to me India will do better in tests as they got suffucient prctice in ODIs now. Pujara and Zahir definately add flavour as both has played here before

  • Gerald on December 12, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Except of course that de Kock is a bit smarter than Gibbs

  • Mukund on December 12, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    what raw talent! to be fair the indian bowling line up isnt the best way to test our batsmens skills. but i would slot him in over smith any day for odi's. we do need more batsmen like this. lets hope he can do this on other wickets too though.

  • Harjinder on December 12, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    Yes ,GIBBS you are right ,we miss you and see in Quinton

  • Dummy4 on December 12, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    De Kock might have been like Gibbs (in terms of ' careless daring' in the early days of his still nascent cricket), but he is far more mature than Gibbs now, even at such a young age.

    I also feel, De Kock is ready for Test Cricket. He can easily replace Smith as an opener, even in Tests... Hope South Africa identify another youngster and develop him for replacing Kallis, by the time the great Kallis decides to retire. I have no doubt in my mind that South Africa is the top Cricketing nation in the world for quite some time. If they groom & induct more youngsters like de Kock, they will continue to be so.

  • yuvraj on December 12, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    De Kock is an excellent find for us. Special thanks to Indian team for coming here and boasting up this young mans confident. We are building a good team for the next world cup in Aus. Only weak link in our team is McLaren with the bat. He needs to start performing with the bat. Otherwise we are going to have a long tail. Miller is another excellent find for us. He is quite capable of handling the pressure lower down the order.

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