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The significance of Temba Bavuma’s Test captaincy appointment

New Proteas’ Test captain Temba Bavuma

New Proteas Test captain Temba Bavuma. Photo: Arun Sankar/AFP

Published Feb 26, 2023


By Ongama Gcwabe

Gqeberha — For the first time in the history of South African Cricket, a black man will don the precious green blazer of the Proteas and take to the middle on day one for a coin toss a few moments before the start of a Test match.

Temba Bavuma, the glass ceiling breaker will be the first black man to have the privilege of captaining the Test side. He was appointed by the new coaching regime that is headed by the vastly experienced Shukri Conrad.

Conrad himself played his cricket during the dark days of apartheid and was denied opportunity to play at the highest level on the basis of the colour of his skin not being white enough.

For Conrad's generation, which defiant enough to stay in and around the cricket despite everything that happened in their careers, it was not a reality that any of them would one day represent South Africa, let alone being captain of the team.

The thought of a black Test captain in South Africa was a fantasy. It was still unrealistic after South Africa’s readmission to international cricket in the early 90s.

Black Cricket history had many natural born leaders that were invalidated and never got to live their dreams. The late Khaya Majola is one example of a natural born leader that never tasted the success he deserved.

Bavuma is the descendent of all these black cricketing heroes. The Bavuma name is deeply rooted in the Eastern Cape where the first black South Africans to play cricket came from.

This means Bavuma carries within him a rich cricketing background. His Test captaincy appointment will go far beyond anyone's imagination.

It firstly validates all the efforts of the black cricket trailblazers. It affirms the efforts of those who simply refused to be pushed out of the sport they loved.

It celebrates the reluctance Majola had towards the narrative that black South Africans did not have it in them to compete and be successful in international cricket.

"It's a significant appointment in so many ways. We've come a long way with the sport of cricket as black people especially in the Eastern Cape," said isiXhosa commentator Philasande Sixaba.

"I think its a massive appointment, a massive honour for Temba as well. It just says that not only is he the first black batter to score a hundred but he's also shown that there's leadership qualities in black cricketers as well.

"It definitely should inspire the next generation of black cricketers coming through to not only aspire to play for the Proteas but to captain them as well. It's huge on so many levels.”

The world saw it with Siya Kolisi who brought back to life rugby in the Eastern Cape by not only winning the World Cup in 2019 but also being the leader of that squad.

Like in Kolisi’s case, Bavuma’s appointment will inspire and give hope to youngsters growing up in the impoverished parts of the Eastern Cape.

In many ways Kolisi is seen as the greatest captain South Africa has had in all sporting codes because of his impact.

His impact in Zwide has transcended sports and it continues to do so. To many, his appointment as captain is one of the best things to happen in the sport of rugby in South Africa.

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People at Rholihlahla where his mother used to live, an impoverished squat camp in Gqeberha, they were looking to him for meals to eat on the day where he was doing a media bus tour earlier this month.

That shows the desperation of the people and also how they look at Siya as not only a sportsperson but also as a person that can save them.

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That moment showed that people there look up to Kolisi to help them carry the message across that they are struggling.

The same impact Kolisi has had on South Africa is what we could witness with Bavuma’s appointment. That is how far this appointment could go.


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