Johannesburg – Temba Bavuma is ‘humbled’ and ‘excited’ by the thought of leading South Africa to a maiden World Cup trophy as the ICC announce fixture list for the 2023 edition.
The excitement in the cricket world is at its all-time high as the 13th edition of the 50-over World Cup is right around the corner.
The 2023 version of the showpiece will be hosted in India, a country with a biggest audience of the sport.
It certainly promises to be a World Cup like no other; with a bit of added pressure an almost guarantee for all players involved and for fans around the world who will be glued on their television screens hoping the cricket Gods favour their own country to win the tournament.
For South Africa’s captain, Bavuma, it will be his first taste of the event.
Yes, Bavuma has two T20I World Cups under the belt, but this 50-over World Cup will surely be unfamiliar territory, regardless of how small the difference is between T20I & 50-over World Cups.
The most important thing for Bavuma and for any other player that will be involved in this World Cup, is that World Cups don’t come too often and that makes them uniquely special events to participate in.
"Representing your country in a Cricket World Cup is a dream come true for any player,” Bavuma told the International Cricket Council after the fixture list was announced on Tuesday.
“But to captain your country on cricket's biggest stage is an achievement beyond most players' wildest dreams.
“This will be my first 50-over Cricket World Cup and I am humbled to be entrusted with the job to lead the group of men we will have come September,” Bavuma commented.
The four-year journey to India was no easy task for South Africa.
From losing 2-1 in a three-match series away in Sri Lanka, to being beaten 2-1 at home against Bangladesh last year, the road to qualification for the World Cup was certainly filled with many downs for South Africa.
But since Bavuma has been captain, and now with Rob Walter as head coach, the blueprint and playing style is defined in the proteas camp.
The players have their roles in the side defined and everybody in the team, including the management staff, know what is expected of them.
The series against the West Indies and the Dutch towards the end of last summer validated what many South Africans already believed, that Bavuma and his men are more than capable of holding their own at this elite level.
"The road to success is never linear and we've definitely had our ups and downs on the road to qualification, but the important thing is that we have made it and we are in it to win it,” said Bavuma.
“I'm looking forward to the showpiece that the tournament is guaranteed to be and hope to lead South Africa to historical achievements." He added.
Having secured the last automatic qualification spot after whitewashing the Dutch earlier this year, Bavuma is filled with excitement.
"This is going to be an exciting World Cup for everyone involved,” he continued. “With India as hosts, we as players know the kind of fanfare, noise, and festive energy we can expect from fans in and out of the stadiums.
"It's going to be a carnival of cricket like no other and definitely a World Cup we are looking forward to take part and excelling in,” Bavuma concluded.
There’s never been an easy opponent at World Cups, but South Africa’s fixture list is particularly intense.
The Proteas have Australia early on in their World Cup campaign and it is no secret how good the Aussies are when it’s time to produce World Cup standards.
Regardless of the intensity of the fixture list and opposition, Bavuma and his men will have to find a way to maneuverer their way to success to become the first SA cricket team to win a World Cup.
South Africa’s schedule of World Cup matches (all day-night matches unless indicated otherwise):
7 October – vs Qualifier 2, Delhi
13 October – vs Australia, Lucknow
17 October – vs Qualifier 1, Dharmshala
21 October – vs England, Mumbai
24 October – vs Bangladesh, Mumbai
27 October – vs Pakistan, Chennai
1 November – vs New Zealand, Pune
5 November – vs India, Kolkata
10 November – vs Afghanistan, Ahmedabad