During the World Cup earlier this year, Quinton de Kock created a mild furore by saying the atmosphere during his IPL 2019 win with Mumbai Indians was more emotionally intense than the one during South Africa's semi-final defeat in the World Cup in 2015. Blasphemy, cried those who support international cricket over leagues, national flags over similar-looking jerseys. Blown out of proportion, said those who had heard the question, which related to emotional atmosphere at a ground and not the value of a tournament or a match.
A couple of months later, on the eve of South Africa's T20I against India in Mohali, de Kock was given an opportunity to clarify what he meant.
"What must I say?" It is the biggest thing I have won so far. I haven't won a World Cup," de Kock said as a matter of fact. "So obviously once I win a World Cup, if I do, that will be the biggest ever thing I have done in my career. So far it is an IPL. I had played for a couple of teams but had never made the play-offs before. I played for Mumbai, we made the final and we won. So obviously it is a big achievement for any cricketer. There are so many things that cricketers these days want to be part of. They want to win IPL finals. They want to be part of World Cup finals and win them. Personally it's different for everyone. Everyone has their opinions. My opinion is mine. Their opinion is theirs. For me that's the biggest thing I have achieved so far."
The IPL final could not be accused of being dull. Played in front of a raucous crowd, the match involved a successful defence of eight runs in the final over. De Kock was in the thick of him: taking a catch, effecting a run-out, but also conceding four byes off a Jasprit Bumrah hand grenade. The World Cup semi-final was a similarly close affair, but New Zealand beat South Africa in that heart-breaking finish. As a wicketkeeper, de Kock was in the thick of it again, taking a superlative catch to send back Ross Taylor but missing the run-out of Grant Elliott, who eventually took New Zealand home.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo