Cape Town — Quinton de Kock owes Temba Bavuma a great deal of gratitude. Yesterday, for the countless time in the last few months, Bavuma had the eyes of the world's media focused on him, pushing for answers and explanations to yet another outlandish De Kock life decision.
At the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates it was Bavuma that took guard for De Kock after the Proteas wicket-keeper refused to take the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of the group clash against the West Indies in Dubai.
Bavuma played the perfect forward defence by elequently stating that "Quinton is an adult. He's a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision. We respect his convictions" but was also steadfast that "He's still one of the boys, so whatever support that he needs, whatever shoulder that he requires from his teammates, we'll be there for him."
It was a powerful message to De Kock that he was not going to be thrown to the wolves regardless of Bavuma's personal feelings on the subject.
Ahead of the ODI series against India on Wednesday, it was once again Bavuma in the firing line. On this occasion he came out playing shots when referring to De Kock's shock Test retirement midway through the recent series against India.
"It's good to see Quinny again, we obviously missed him as the Test team. He has made a decision and it's one that we respect. Having Quinny within the team has been good. I don't want to put words in his mouth but knowing him, he'll have a point to prove," Bavuma said.
There are few people that fully understand the way the De Kock brain functions. Some feel that's often its from a selfish standpoint, while others have given up hope trying to make sense of it all.
Bavuma, though, who has known De Kock intimately from his first days as a professional cricketer at the Lions, is well aware that all the 28-year-old really is yearning for is appreciation. To be treated in manner where his talents are valued and respected.
For all his perceived faults De Kock is still a global superstar with the ability to break open any game. Now that he is solely focused on limited-overs cricket it could arguably even transform him into a more dangerous cricketer.
There are two white-ball World Cups - T20 World Cup in Australia later this year before the 50-overs jamboree in India next year - and for South Africa's recent progress in the longer format, the Proteas remain a stronger outfit with De Kock in their line-up.
Hopefully, after all Bavuma has done for him over the past six months, De Kock repays his skipper with the only currency that's worth anything, which of course is buckets of runs.