Quinton de Kock smashes World Cup’s highest score at ‘home’ in Mumbai

24 October 2023 - 15:08
By Stuart Hess at Wankhede Stadium
South Africa's Quinton de Kock walks after losing his wicket in the 2023 Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas South Africa's Quinton de Kock walks after losing his wicket in the 2023 Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.

“Quinton?” “De Kock!” 

“Quinton?” “De Kock!”

“Quinton?” “De Kock!”

That chant poured down from the stands at this storied venue. 

If Quinton De Kock was feeling tired in the Proteas’ fifth World Cup match in India against Bangladesh, in what were once again extremely warm conditions at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, the backing of what used to be his home crowd in the IPL re-energised him. 

Clearly, De Kock’s teammates and the Proteas coaching staff weren’t lying when they said there was a certain steeliness about him in the weeks leading up to the Cricket World Cup. Usually the life of the party, quick with chirp for those who are dozy in the field and always involved in plotting pranks, De Kock’s demeanour has been a little more reserved recently. 

He doesn’t think he’s any different, but teammates have noticed the slight change. 

The World Cup and the other ICC events had not seen the best of him. For the 50-over showpiece specifically, the 30-year-old’s returns were modest; an average of 30 and just four fifties in 17 innings across two tournaments. 

When the Proteas’ squad for this tournament was named, De Kock announced his retirement from the 50-over format. Keen to spend more time with his family, he felt he wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind to continue another four-year cycle until the home World Cup in 2027.

Best to attain financial security in various T20 Leagues to which he is contracted, while pouring every ounce of himself into this final tilt at securing a World Cup title. 

It’s liberated him, even if he won’t admit it. 

Tuesday’s 174, besides being the highest score of this year’s World Cup, was also the second-highest ODI score of his career, it was his 20th ODI century and his third in his last five innings. From World Cup famine before this event, De Kock’s having a feast this last fortnight.   

Was there a shot he didn’t play?

There was a reverse sweep for six off Bangladesh’s veteran all-rounder Mohammad Mahmudullah. It felt totally natural, just like the square drive for four off the third ball he faced that set him on his way. 

Remember, this is the responsible version of De Kock. It was his 150th ODI on Tuesday, and he has learnt that the all-out flamboyance of his youth provides little value to a team with such a deliberate batting strategy that revolves around its top six lasting the majority of the innings. 

But De Kock wants to make the most of these last days in a format in which he has thrived. He paced his innings superbly — his first 50 came off 47 balls, his second took another 54 deliveries and he moved from 100 to 150 off only 28 balls. 

It’s worth remembering conditions were pretty difficult, even if they weren’t as oppressive as last Saturday. De Kock battled with cramps when making 109 in South Africa’s opening match of the tournament against Sri Lanka. 

But he was having too much fun and at one point he skipped through for a single, ready to unleash more stunning shot-making at the start of the next over. 

He looked gutted after slicing a wide delivery from Hasan Mahmud to the fielder on the deep point boundary. A double hundred was certainly there for the taking. But 174 off 140 balls with 15 fours and seven sixes still provided rich entertainment and created more memories for him as his ODI career winds down. 

The Proteas were again without skipper Temba Bavuma, who is struggling with “gastric illness”, the team’s management said. Never mind, they got their comfort blanket after Aiden Markram chose to bat when he won the toss. 

There is growing talk about South Africa’s terrific ability to set scores — on Tuesday 382/5 was their fourth total of more than 300 in the competition, which includes the highest total in tournament history, the 428/5 against Sri Lanka. But their record in chasing targets is poor; winning only three matches batting second this year.

For now, however, they won’t be bothered. A spot in the playoffs is all they seek, and if that means batting first the whole way through and winning, then so be it. 

Besides De Kock's efforts, there was another blazing innings from Heinrich Klaasen who backed up his 67-ball 109 from last Saturday with a 49-ball 90 that included eight sixes, many of which drew gasps from the growing crowd.