Bavuma fit and fired up to lead Proteas again

Temba Bavuma will captain the Proteas on their coming Tour of the West Indies. | BackpagePix

Temba Bavuma will captain the Proteas on their coming Tour of the West Indies. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 9, 2024


Zaahier Adams

There was a time when Temba Bavuma could not sneeze and it would go viral on social media.

But having last played international cricket on Boxing Day at Centurion last year, where he tore a hamstring chasing a Virat Kohli cover drive, Bavuma has quietly been able to escape the attention of the trolls.

During that period, the Proteas Men’s team reached a first ICC T20 World Cup final – under Aiden Markram’s leadership.

This has allowed Bavuma to go about his business in a quiet manner, while fitting in a short trip to the AfroNation music festival in Portugal over the past couple of months.

Bavuma is fit and firing again, though, and ready to lead the Proteas’ Test side against the West Indies when they take on the Caribbean side in a two-match series next month.

And after an overindulgence in T20 cricket – both at franchise level and internationally – the Windies series kick-starts a sustained six-month period of Test cricket for the Proteas, which also includes series against Bangladesh (away), Sri Lanka and Pakistan (both at home).

“I mentioned to Temba that it’s the first time as a Test unit that we’re going to spend some extended time together,” Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad told the media yesterday.

Conrad and Bavuma will certainly be plotting how they are going to find their way to Lord’s next year for the ICC World Test Championship grand final.

The Proteas are currently seventh on the nine-team list with 25 points from four matches, with the 2-0 defeat away to New Zealand, where Conrad was forced to take an under-strength team, having severely dented their chances.

But the red-ball coach is not giving up hope just yet, especially with 24 points on offer during the West Indies series.

The Proteas have only lost one Test ‘series’ to the Windies – the one-off Test in Bridgetown that marked South Africa’s return to Test cricket in 1992 – both home and away.

Conrad said the fact that the Proteas surrendered the New Zealand series with a below-par squad was part of “the modern-day world”.

“You just have to roll with the punches. It is what it is and we just have to make it work,” Conrad said.

“We’ve got eight Test matches left in the cycle and whilst one doesn’t want to look too far ahead, in order to give ourselves a good crack at it, we probably need to win at least seven.

“That’s part of the end goal. We know that every Test series is going to be a challenging one. But when we play to our full potential, I think we can obviously get the right results. We’re still very much in the mix.”

Bavuma will certainly want to be a major contributor during this period, especially after his last Test innings yielded a career-best 172 against the West Indies in Johannesburg last year.