Temba Bavuma balances history with ambition as new Proteas white ball captain
JOHANNESBURG – While acknowledging the significance of the social dynamic that comes with his appointment as the first black African cricket captain of South Africa, Temba Bavuma also recognises the enormity of the task that awaits him and the expectation about winning a World Cup title.
Bavuma, 30, was named captain of the Proteas’ T20 and One-day International sides on Thursday. Dean Elgar was named the Test team’s captain, with Bavuma as his vice captain. Cricket SA’s, Director of Cricket Graeme Smith confirmed that both appointments were for two years, lending the South African men’s team some much needed stability.
It means Bavuma will captain the Proteas at the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups and he will also lead the side at the 50-over World Cup in 2023. South African has never won a World Cup title in any of those formats.
“I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t mean anything to me. I understand the deeply rooted significance of it all,” Bavuma said of his appointment. “I can completely understand why people in our country would celebrate this.”
“From a pure ambition point of view, as much as I am the first black African captain, from a playing perspective, I have very strong ambitions that I’d like to achieve. Along with being the first black African captain, I want to be known as someone who led the team very well and created a legacy for himself.”
"We are excited to have him lead the Proteas in the upcoming T20 World Cups as well as the 2023 World Cup in India. He will also be the Test team’s vice-captain, working closely with Dean to ensure continuity & stability in the squad." - CSA Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith. pic.twitter.com/xuwnPnhg7d— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) March 4, 2021
That legacy will be completely entwined with how the South African team he leads will perform at the three ICC events over the next two years. South Africa’s legacy at World Cups, is one of failure and choking.
“It is quite a scary and daunting prospect, but there’s also a lot of excitement attached to it as well,” he said. “I’m committed to the whole process and journey. I’d like to lead the guys to something special.”
Bavuma has had great success as the Lions captain, since taking that position in 2018/19. In that season he led the side to the Four-Day title and later the T20 crown as well and last week the Lions, with a star-studded team won the competition again. It is the 2018/19 tournament that proved pivotal in Bavuma’s career.
Fueled by the disappointment of not even being considered a candidate for the World Cup side in 2019, Bavuma changed his approach to batting, adopting a more assertive style to prove he could thrive in the limited overs formats.
“I’ve enjoyed the responsibility of leading the Lions side. The nature of serving people, that balancing act between (achieving) your own personal ambitions as a player and (ensuring) the interests of the team (are upheld) is something that I’ve taken a liking to.”
Bavuma, like Elgar was informed a few days ago about his appointment, but said that while it came as a surprise, he had no doubts that he wanted to take the role.
“I feel a bit calmer now and and at peace with the decision. There is obviously anxiety in terms of not knowing what to expect. But a lot of comfort comes from the fact that I know my players, the people who’ve entrusted me with the position; Graeme, Victor (Mpitsang, chairman of selectors), Mark (Boucher, the Proteas head coach) and Enoch (Nkwe, the Proteas assistant coach), I draw a lot of confidence from that, because those are people of stature.”
While Bavuma’s first assignment as captain is within sight - the twin limited overs series’ against Pakistan next month - for Elgar, there is still time to reflect on his appointment, but also, the plans he has for the Test side. South Africa’s next Test assignment is likely to be against the West Indies, sometime around June, with details about that tour close to be finalised.
“There is a lot of time before our next Test series,” said Elgar. “So I’m not going to rush into anything. There are areas for us to work on, but because we have time, I’m not going to clarify anything now.”