Cape Town - Proteas coach Russell Domingo believes that Temba Bavuma’s ability to find the gap with “good cricket shots” makes him an ideal candidate to open the batting in one-day internationals.
Domingo confirmed on Thursday that Test middle-order batsman Bavuma will face the new ball in Sunday’s one-off ODI against Ireland in Benoni, with Hashim Amla being rested ahead of next week’s start of a five-match series against Australia.
Captain AB de Villiers was also ruled out of the Ireland game due to an ongoing elbow injury, which has placed him in doubt for the Aussie series as well. If he requires surgery, he will miss the November Tests against Steve Smith’s team Down Under too.
So, with Amla equally able to bat at No 3, Bavuma could strengthen his case for a proper run in the ODI side if he impresses against Ireland. He didn’t have much success in the shorter format for his franchise last season, scoring just 95 runs in seven innings in the Lions’ run to the title.
But Bavuma faced just 131 balls, and batted mainly in the middle-order, where he may not have had much opportunity to occupy the crease and get his eye in.
Domingo thinks he can prosper upfront, with the right-hander having proved that he can handle the pressure of international cricket in the five-day game.
“Temba has got really good attributes for an opening batsman. He is really good in terms of his technique, he is a guy that can bat for long periods of time and he can hit the bad ball for four,” the coach said after the Proteas squad gathered in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“Maybe at this stage in his one-day career, he is probably not suited to coming in at five or six and trying to hit fours and sixes at the back-end. I think it allows him a nice start to international one-day cricket because he can play normally.
“If he hits a good cricket shot in the first five or six overs, it will go for four, but if he hits a good cricket shot in the last 10 overs, it might go for one.
“It’s a nice spot for him to try and find a niche in one-day cricket. I know he has opened the batting on one or two occasions for the Lions, and I’m very excited to see what he can offer.”
Apart from Bavuma, new all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phelukwayo could make their ODI debuts against Ireland, while Domingo is confident that there is enough batting firepower to offset the loss of De Villiers.
“JP (Duminy), Faf (du Plessis), Quinton de Kock, (David) Miller, Farhaan (Behardien), Rilee (Rossouw), Temba (Bavuma), there is a lot of ability there. I’m confident that those players can do it. We have some high quality players who have done it before and I see no reason why they shouldn’t do it this time as well.”