Kagiso Rabada with Temba Bavuma (centre) during the 2019 Cricket South Africa Awards at the Sun Square Arena, Pretoria in August 2019 Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – “I’m the one to be blamed.”

Temba Bavuma remarked after South Africa’s seven-wicket defeat to India in the second T20 international in Mohali on Wednesday. However, it would be grossly unfair for the T20 debutant to pick up all the slack.

Rightly, Bavuma lost momentum at a crucial stage of SA’s innings, with three successive dot balls in the 17th over resulting in a strike rate of just 113 as the Proteas limped to 149/5. If Bavuma is to develop into a world-class short-format player, his overall strike-rate has to move up to at least 120 per 100 balls.

The best in the T20 business operate at strike-rates of 125 and beyond.

However, there was enough on display on Wednesday during his 49 to suggest that the tiny right-hander does possess sufficient quality and game awareness to move through the gears.

Equally, the Proteas have never possessed an abundance of truly explosive stroke-players that have lit up T20 international cricket.

Former all-rounder Albie Morkel still boasts the highest strike-rate of any Protea at 142.24. The next South African on the list is David Miller with a strike-rate of 140.

And this brings me to the crux.

Miller joined Bavuma at the crease with seven overs remaining. And as Bavuma pointed out: “When David came in at No 5 I think in the 13th over, we felt that we were in a very strong position. At the half-way stage, I was honestly thinking 180 at least, that would be a very competitive score. I felt the platform was really set for the boys to get out and do their thing.”

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Former captain Graeme Smith said on commentary he would like to see Miller at No 4, but on the day it was irrelevant as Rassie van der Dussen had used up just two balls.

Miller had sufficient time to launch an attack that should have propelled the Proteas to at least a competitive total. He is the most experienced member of this Proteas team with 71 T20 caps and was playing at virtually his second home, having represented IPL franchise, Kings XI Punjab, for the best part of the last decade. If anyone has to accept fault, then surely it should not be a T20 debutant but Miller instead?

SA are going through a transitional phase. There are bound to be some sombre lessons to be learnt as they navigate a new path, but if they are to move forward it will be a necessity that the senior men provide the light along the way.


Cape Times

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