Temba Bavuma satisfied after match-winning knock in third-T20I against Ireland
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CAPE TOWN – These are strange times for Temba Bavuma.
He might have known they were coming. Well, he should have, because it was always hovering on the horizon ever since he was named the first Black African limited-overs captain of the Proteas.
It remains an appointment that divides opinion, courting debate, and where every failure is almost celebrated in certain circles.
Maybe it is the lot of all captains of South Africa, of all captains of all cricket teams, to delight some and to infuriate the rest. But having bore witness to testimonies from black ex-Proteas this past week at Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, it is safe to assume that Bavuma’s capabilities are judged on an entirely different level.
It will be fascinating to watch for how long he can endure it all, or indeed for how long he actually wants it.
What he does know is that the only formula to keep the social media vultures at bay – and even then he might still take some flak – is for his team to win matches consistently and for him to score runs.
The former has been achieved with Bavuma breaking the Proteas’ run of five successive T20I series defeats by leading his team to away series wins over both the West Indies and Ireland. Both series were his first assignments in charge.
And now after an admittedly lean run with the willow, Bavuma has ticked the latter box too with a maiden T20I half-century that earned him the Player of the Match in the third and final match against Ireland.
It was a performance that he was particularly satisfied with due to the pressure he knew was under.
“Yes, I've been lean on runs, so being able to still stay true to the gameplan, and put aside my own personal ambitions, my own anxieties, and really try and execute for the team (was satisfying),” Bavuma said.
Coach Mark Boucher was equally delighted with his skipper’s fluent 72 off 51 balls.
“I am very happy for him and it puts us into a nice situation when your captain is doing well with the bat because he can lead with confidence now,” Boucher said. “He is a type of guy that likes to run with a bit of form, so him getting runs now comes at a perfect time. We go to Sri Lanka now and he will definitely take that confidence into Sri Lanka. He has been working really hard so it was only a matter of time before he got some runs. He has been leading very well on and off the field.”
The Proteas’ next challenge is a three-match T20I series on the tea-loving island that will form part of the final preparations ahead of the T20 World Cup in October.
Bavuma is hoping the Proteas can build the momentum gained over the past couple of series, especially as there remains room for improvement in crucial areas within the squad.
“I think winning becomes a habit. There is a lot of confidence we can take from that. We have been a side that has been on the losing end of things. Our confidence has been battered a bit, and we have been trying to work on that confidence to instil that belief within the guys. There is no substitute for winning, and there is no other way to get the confidence and belief within players than through winning,” Bavuma said.
“It is a good sign for us as a team that despite us not playing our best cricket, we are still managing to win. That can show us that there is still a lot that we can give as a team. We won't downplay our efforts here in Ireland. We understand the magnitude of it and the number of steps we have taken forward as a team.”