Temba Bavuma wants Proteas’ Andile Phehlukwayo to rediscover ’his best cricket’
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JOHANNESBURG - Although he played no part in South Africa’s T20 series win against the West Indies, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo remains an “integral member” of the squad according to limited overs captain Temba Bavuma.
Phehlukwayo, 25, has played 99 matches for the Proteas across the three formats, but, as was shown in the West Indies, his spot in the starting XI, is far from cemented. In the series decider, even with two changes being made to the starting side, Phehlukwayo still didn’t crack a nod, instead Wiaan Mulder played just his second T20 international.
Mulder, who wasn’t even part of the original T20 squad and was only kept in the Caribbean after Dwaine Pretorius was diagnosed with Covid-19, picked up two crucial wickets as South Africa won that match.
Given the impact Mulder made, Phehlukwayo must wonder where he fits into the team’s planning with the T20 World Cup just a few months away and qualification for the 50-over World Cup in 2023, now a major focus for the Proteas.
“I definitely see Andile playing a big part, he is an integral member of the squad, he’s one of the few guys in the side with a considerable number of games and experience behind him,” Bavuma said on Saturday.
Phehlukwayo did feature in the series against Pakistan earlier this year when Bavuma was absent because of injury, but was not entrusted with bowling at some crucial times, despite being the most experienced player in that particular squad.
Heinrich Klaasen, who captained South Africa in Bavuma’s absence made the startling claim that Phehlukwayo’s confidence was a bit “low.” Bavuma said Saturday he couldn’t speak to that now, but a loss of confidence would not be unique to Phehlukwayo.
“Confidence is such a volatile thing for all sportsmen; there are days you wake up feeling on top of the world and other days you feel like you don’t know which end of the bat to hold,” Bavuma remarked.
“It is not unique to Andile. The best thing we can do is support him. As captain my job is to speak to him to try and get his mind as clear as possible, and make sure he can play his best cricket.”
Despite the disappointment of not featuring in the West Indies series, Bavuma described Phehlukwayo, being “in a good state.”
“That’s not to say he wasn’t low on confidence in the Pakistan series, but Andile now, in the conversations that have been had, he seems quite clear. More importantly he understands a lot more what his role in the team is to take the team forward.”
It will do Phehlukwayo’s confidence some good to be in the starting line up. Bavuma, said given the conditions in Ireland, where South Africa will start a three match ODI series on Sunday, the presence of all-rounders will be crucial.
“These conditions allow us to play the extra all-rounder which gives us the extra cushion from a batting point of view. But we still want to create the situation where batters need to take ownership of what they need to do and the same for bowlers.
“There is still time to try different options and give guys the opportunities to showcase what they can do,” Bavuma added.
Phehlukwayo must hope one of those opportunities comes his way and that crucially for him, he can use it to remind the selectors of his value to the national side.