Seldom do teams find two openers who strike such a chord as Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock. West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes were the first of their kind in One Day Internationals. Sri Lanka once had it with Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana. India enjoyed the Sachin Tendulkar – Sourav Ganguly time and later the Sachin Tendulkar – Virender Sehwag transcended the realms of reality. Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist were a dream pair for the Aussies while Saeed Anwar and Aamer Sohail were Pakistan’s own piece of joy.
While South Africa did have Herschelle Gibbs – Graeme Smith, Andrew Hudson – Gary Kirsten and the likes to boast of, the real deal eluded them until a baby-faced Quinton de Kock, with a roaring reputation in domestic circles walked in at the top of the order with Hashim Amla in 2013.
At first, it was Amla’s composure and calmness alongside de Kock’s brute force and reckless hitting. As completely contrasting personalities, they hit it off quite well early on. de Kock would be the aggressor in the powerplays while Amla hung around long enough, making runs at run a ball.
But soon that changed as both of them started complimenting each other exceptionally well. Amla would learn to go over the top if his surgical precision in piercing gaps wasn’t working while de Kock matured alarmingly quick. They would boost each other’s confidence in completely different ways and it worked extremely well for the Proteas.
Since de Kock’s debut, the pair has compiled 3664 runs at an average of 48.85 including ten century stands. No other pair for any wicket has made 3000 during this time frame. While there have been talks of Rohit Sharma – Virat Kohli, Ross Taylor – Kane Williamson, AB de Villiers – Faf du Plessis and Aaron Finch – David Warner, de Kock and Amla have flown relatively under the radar despite scoring runs at will.
Only the Shikhar Dhawan – Rohit Sharma pair has more century partnerships since de Kock and Amla joined hands at the top in 2013 (11 century partnerships as against 10 by the South African pair).
The duo share a remarkable admiration for each other and this is evident in the manner in which they have grown together at the top of the South African ODI line-up.
“He [de Kock] has come a long way from the time we were in Sri Lanka, and there were a few doubts about his ability opening the batting against spin,” Amla once said. “He has got all attributes to be a great player. He scores quickly, he has got great thinking when he is batting. I was telling someone else that I have been blown away by the fact that he has got a great calmness when he bats. So it has been a good experience.”
That calmness has undoubtedly seeped into de Kock’s game from his senior partner. All of that was on full display at Kimberly in the first match of the ODI series against Bangladesh. Chasing 279 for victory after Bangladesh put up their highest total against South Africa in ODIs, South Africa barely broke a bead of sweat as Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla once again hogged all the limelight.
The pair smashed centuries and refused to be dismissed right through the 257 balls they faced in the run chase. They ended up with an unbeaten 282 run opening stand that sealed the chase for Proteas. It was the third highest opening stand ever, the second highest in a run chase in ODIs and the best ever stand for any wicket for South Africa.
With this, Amla and de Kock now share another coveted record as they have the most partnership runs for any wicket among South Africans in ODIs. The run chase was the highest ever to be chased down in ODIs without a single wicket lost.
Quite a few record were broken here at Kimberly as the opening pair once again resumed business in the first ODI of the South African summer.
There is something about this pair that makes them extremely dangerous in this format of the game. While de Kock thrives on instincts and amazing hand-eye coordination, Amla has been graced by Godly wrists and amazing bat speed. Together, they have the ability to thwart any bowling attack into the ground.
Only last year, they had put on another double-century opening stand against England in an ODI in Centurion. There have been quite a few eye-catching opening pairs in One Day Internationals over the years, but few have managed to withstand the test of time and awe fans with their amazing bond and runs to back them up. Amla and de Kock have already embraced the stardom and are well on their way to emulate the greatest ever opening pairs in ODIs. They are the sixth best in terms of runs in the list of best openers in One Dayers but trust them to finish in the top three by the time they play together the last time ’cause this pair is irresistibly irresistible.