David Warner or Quinton de Kock - Who is the better T20I opener?
David Warner and Quinton de Kock don't exactly see eye to eye after the infamous staircase incident in the 2018 Test series between the two sides. But on the cricket field, as opening batsmen, the two carry very similar qualities - aggression, fearlessness and consistency.
The two southpaws are lynchpins in their respective teams and much of the starts the team gets depends on these two. Warner has been a gun T20 batsman across franchise cricket, but in international cricket does he carry as much impact as de Kock?
Since the end of the last T20 World Cup in 2016, Warner and de Kock are nowhere near the top half of international openers with most runs in the format. Rohit Sharma, Paul Stirling and Shikhar Dhawan get their names in that list, with Colin Munro, KL Rahul, Aaron Finch and Evin Lewis qualifying among the most feared for their strike rates.
Warner has 574 runs in 18 matches in this time frame, averaging 47.83 with one century and five half-centuries. He carries a strike rate of 142.43 which is outstanding in the format. Quinton de Kock, on the other hand, has surprisingly played just 15 matches, yet finds himself the captain of the Proteas T20I side but his numbers justify why he is a top gun in the side.
De Kock has 484 runs in 15 games at an average of 34.57 but scores at a quicker pace than Warner at 149.84. He has no century in this time frame but has five half-centuries, all coming at a frenetic pace.
Here we come to the slight difference in role between the two openers in their respective teams. While De Kock is the aggressor-in-chief in the South African team, Warner often plays, or rather has the luxury of playing second fiddle to the more dominating Aaron Finch.
De Kock's most regular partner in this period is Reeza Hendricks who scores at a rate of 125.87 and averages 27.47. Finch, meanwhile, scores at 158.94 and averages nearly 40, easing pressure on Warner.
Being the primary aggressor and run-scorer is a massive task and so far, De Kock has played a magnificent role in the Proteas side. However, with a minimum cut-off of 400 runs in this period for openers, KL Rahul, Warner and Hazratullah Zazai (from among the major T20I sides) are the only players to score at a pace of 140-plus and have an average above 40. This makes Warner an elite opener in T20Is and he perhaps packs a bit more punch in the Australian setup than de Kock does with South Africa.