Kemp, who represented South Africa in 97 international matches, says he would be extremely surprised if the Multiply Titans and South African wicketkeeper doesn’t scoop up at least a few of the awards at the Kyalami Theatre on the Track on Saturday.
The 24-year-old has been nominated in the following categories: SA Cricketer of the Year, Standard Bank Test Cricketer of the Year and Standard Bank ODI Cricketer of the Year as well as the KFC Award of Excellence. In addition, he has secured his peers’ vote as SA Players’ Player of the Year and could be a contender for SA Fans’ Cricketer of the Year.
“He is very talented with the gloves, but over the last while he has become world-class. He seems to enjoy what he is doing and shows no fear,” said Kemp.
In the series against Australia, De Kock dropped a few difficult chances when diving to his left low to the ground and near the first slip, Hashim Amla.
But he showed almost immediate improvement in the series against New Zealand, pouching catches that would form part of the highlights-reel of the season’s finest catches. And he completed those extremely challenging catches almost with monotonous regularity.
De Kock slammed 695 runs at an average of 63.18 in Tests in 2016, an indication of his improved form, and struck centuries against England in January 2016 and two more against Australia and Sri Lanka in the 2016/2017-series.
His 91 at Wellington in the second Test against New Zealand at Wellington and a partnership of 160 with Temba Bavuma helped to set up a Test Series win.
“It was quite a good season,” said de Kock. “I was trying to do my best and help the team get over the line. I always enjoy contributing to the team - that’s all I wanted to do was help out the team where I could.”
Not only was De Kock superlative with the blade in white uniform. He scored the third most runs in One-Day Internationals with 837 runs at an average of 57.13.
“One game which I particularly enjoyed was the third ODI in Durban against Australia,” said de Kock. “We were under pressure but Miller and Andile showed big match temperament - and showed us what they can do and won us the game.”
“His achievements are wonderful, and such is his impact that he is ranked sixth in the world on the ICC Test rankings,” said Jimmy Cook, a former South African opener.
“At number seven, he shares in valuable partnership of 40 or more with the lower-order partners and gets on with the game. But because he is an opener in One Day Internationals, that is a good position for him to occupy. Usually the second new ball arrives at that time,” he adds.
Cook said the selectors who pick the Player of the Year have their work cut out for them. “Good luck to them in making the right choice, because apart from Quinton, Faf du Plessis has lifted his performances significantly.”
Following the CSA Awards, South Africa will embark on a three-match ODI series against England starting 24 May, in final preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy, also in England.
“I’ve started training again now - by the time I get over to England I’ll be ready. We’ve got a couple of warm-up games which will be great preparation. And hopefully we come back with the trophy.”