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David Beckham will know Temba Bavuma’s struggle well ... and Proteas’ anxiety

South Africa's captain Temba Bavuma during the ICC World Cup match played between Pakistan and South Africa in Chennai

David Beckahm will know just how Temba Bavuma (pictured) feels as an injury cloud hangs over the player, ahead of South Africa’s Cricket World Cup semi-final against Australia on Thursday. Picture: R. Parthibhan/Shutterstock

Published Nov 15, 2023


David Beckham will attend the first Cricket World Cup semi-final between hosts India and New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.

Beckham is a personal guest of Mumbai’s favourite son - Sachin Tendulkar. That’s just how the superstars roll in this bustling coastal metropolis.

Beckham’s cricket experience is limited to his junior school playing days, but the former England football captain does know a fair thing about injuries in the lead up to major tournaments.

Almost 21 years ago, “Becks” had England in a frenzy after he broke a metatarsal in his left foot during a Uefa Champions League match. Beckham even had then-UK prime minister Tony Blair monitoring his recovery ahead of the 2002 Fifa World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Proteas wait with baited breath

South Africa now find themselves on similar tenterhooks, with Proteas captain Temba Bavuma facing a string of fitness tests on his dodgy hamstring ahead of the second World Cup semi-final against Australia at Eden Gardens on Thursday.

Bavuma hobbled through the last match against Afghanistan and many feared that the skipper may have done even more damage by staying out in the field. The Proteas medical staff are working tirelessly, though, to get Bavuma in the right shape to take on the Aussies.

But much like everything in South Africa, there is not a unified will to see the skipper recover in time, with many social media critics claiming the injury may be a blessing in disguise due to the skipper’s lean run with the bat at this World Cup.

For me, there is no question that a fully fit Bavuma takes the field to lead the Proteas. Despite managing only 145 runs in seven innings in India, Bavuma has been prolific in ODI cricket for a period of time leading up to the World Cup.

He also adds a significant amount of value as both captain and in the field. But equally, if Bavuma is still struggling with his fitness in any shape or form, he cannot be risked in a match with such high stakes attached where the result could possibly be determined by the barest of margins.

Proteas coach Rob Walter is certainly giving his leader the best opportunity to take the field at Eden Gardens while monitoring his progress closely.


“(Monday) was obviously positive,” Walter said. “That is the update.

“We’ll see at training. We are taking it daily. We have seen a progression positively each day, which is awesome. We are taking each day as it comes.

“Temba hasn’t come into the equation about being dropped because he has been one of our best batters this past year.

“Yes, he hasn’t scored the amount of runs I would’ve wanted him to in the World Cup, but in every training and every game he looks as though he’s close. From that point of view, a good score is just around the corner.”

However, Walter was clear that he would make the hard decision if needed, but was still hoping that Bavuma would get the green light.

“Nobody is bigger than the team at the end of the day, same goes for everyone,” he said. “But it is a process. (Monday) was a step in declaring him fit. He didn’t do any fielding or highspeed running between the wickets.

“We still have to factor in the preparation. Each day brings something new in terms of him being match fit.”


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