WATCH: Emotional Temba Bavuma says he hopes century allows more black cricketers to dream

Published Mar 10, 2023

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Johannesburg — “I am sure the young Temba that made his debut for South Africa would be very proud of the Temba that he is today. With everything that’s happened. To still be able to keep your head up, keep afloat and finding a way to move forward.”

These were the emotion-filled words of Temba Bavuma, the Proteas Test skipper, after finally overcoming a mountain that took seven years to climb.

It's been 2619 days since Bavuma raised his bat for his maiden Test century against England at Newlands. He now has that all-important second after finishing the third day’s play here in the second Test against the West Indies unbeaten on a stellar 171.

Bavuma’s innings was significant in so many ways. He lifted his team from 8/2 and then 32/3 to a commanding 287/7 - an overall lead of 356 - and on the brink of closing out a series victory that may have been in doubt earlier in the day.

But the pure numbers never do Bavuma justice. Every morning he opens his eyes, the stark realisation that he carries the hopes of millions on his slight shoulders becomes more of a reality.

SEE ALSO: Captain’s innings by Temba Bavuma sees Proteas firmly in charge of second Test

Kagiso Rabada may be the Proteas’ poster-boy, but Bavuma is the beacon of hope as the first black African Test captain of a once divided South Africa.

It is a reality that he has learnt to accept much more since that historic day under the watch of Table Mountain back in 2016.

“That Temba was obviously young back then, very naive, and now I think I have a better understanding of myself, my surroundings, and the pressure and challenges that come with being me in international cricket,” Bavuma said.

SEE ALSO: Skipper Temba Bavuma steadies the ship as Proteas build lead against West Indies

“There have been a lot more downs than ups, I keep learning about myself everyday. I try to take it in my stride and keep my chin up, and stay true to myself.

“With everything I do, there is always that angle, that perspective, the important and significant one that it is. I think us playing for the Proteas, it is about inspiring the next bunch of cricketers.

“Me, obviously being a black African cricketer, is allowing a lot more black African batters to come through, and really dream to come and play for the Proteas. To have their names entrenched in the history books.”

SEE ALSO: West Indies strike back at Proteas struggling at 69/4 at lunch

But like any other batter in the world Bavuma also gets anxious in the “Nervous 90s”. It certainly helped that he had five overthrows attributed to him to move from 91 to 96, but the reality of what he was about to achieve grew with every run as he inched towards his second Test century.

“I tried to stay in the moment as long as I could, obviously when I got to 96, the crowd … the energy started picking up in anticipation of the milestone,” he said.

"My emotions were also starting to pick up. And then I got a ball outside off stump and I was never hitting it on the ground.”

SEE ALSO: ‘We’ll take it,’ says Gerald Coetzee after Proteas end day two with 70-run lead against West Indies

Bavuma’s heroics have certainly put his team in the driving seat. He had help from all-rounder Wiaan Mulder (42) with the Lions pair sharing a 103-run partnership for the sixth wicket on their home ground. And then a further 71 runs with Simon Harmer (19) as the Proteas really drove home their advantage.

But Bavuma is not done yet. From anxiously trying to get his second Test century, the Proteas skipper is now just 21 runs shy of a maiden double ton.

Should Bavuma get there it would smash all sorts of glass ceilings that were seemingly out of reach 369 minutes before he walked out to the Wanderers middle.

“I am going to try and bat as long as I can. I need the rest tonight and come back fresh tomorrow. I am certainly not going to give my wicket away at any point in time. If that opportunity is there I am definitely going for it,” Bavuma said.

@ZaahierAdams

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