Johannesburg - Dean Elgar has cast doubt on Temba Bavuma’s availability for the first Test against Australia, after Bavuma didn’t bat on the opening day of the Proteas’s warm-up match in Brisbane because of concerns about an elbow injury.
The vice captain of the Proteas Test team last played an innings in the T20 World Cup on November 6 when South Africa suffered a shock defeat to the Netherlands and were eliminated from that tournament.
Elgar suggested that Bavuma “jarred” his elbow, which could have exacerbated an old injury.
Bavuma picked up the elbow injury in India earlier this year during a T20 series there and missed the entire tour to England as a result. He was declared fit for the World Cup, but then struggled there too.
“He needs time in the middle, he hasn’t had that of late,” said Elgar. “We need to give him the best opportunity to get time in the middle and make himself available for that first Test,” said Elgar.
The opening match of the three-Test series against Australia starts next Saturday at The Gabba.
Bavuma, who cut a distraught figure when he returned to South Africa, was given an extended break after the T20 World Cup. He did not feature for the Lions in the domestic Four-Day series and were he to be picked for the Gabba Test he would not have played a serious match in almost six weeks. “Hopefully he can bat in the second innings,” said Elgar.
“We need him fit, he’s been one of our solid batters of late and having him in that middle order is vital for us, so hopefully he bounces back from his little interruption.”
Bavuma is averaging 47.93 in his last 11 Tests and his presence in the middle order was sorely missed in England.
Elgar continued his good form scoring 109 for South Africa in their tour match against a Cricket Australia XI at the Allan Border Oval in Brisbane on Friday. Kyle Verreynne also made an unbeaten 76, continuing his good recent form that included scoring a double hundred for Western Province in the Four-Day series.
“His character and the talent is definitely there, it will take innings’ like this just to get his confidence going with regard to the international scene,” Elgar said of Verreynne. “He plays his best cricket when he is being positive and looking to score, which is a promising sign for us ahead of the (Test) series.”
The rest of the Proteas batters weren’t as productive; Sarel Erwee made 25, Rassie van der Dussen, 27, Khaya Zondo 18 and Theunis de Bruyn 13.
Elgar would probably have wanted better returns from his other batters given it is the part of his side’s play that is its weakness. While South Africa has had to play Tests recently on tricky surfaces, the captain conceded that a lack of focus has been their downfall on too many occasions.
“We haven’t been up to scratch of late, I’ve been open and honest about that to our batters in the changeroom. A lack of focus is the one aspect that jumps out. I don’t think the conditions we had were batter friendly. People see the end result….its about implementing the basics, making players aware in the dressing room.”
Elgar said he was hopeful that the anticipated better batting conditions in Australia will be to his team’s liking. “The bounce here is a little more true, which is not the case sometimes in South Africa, especially going into day 3, 4 and 5. In Australia it's a lot more true and you can trust your eye and your ability. I’d like to think coming here suits us.”