JOHANNESBURG - Proteas’ men’s Test captain Dean Elgar “is respecting the space” his vice-captain Temba Bavuma is currently in.
Bavuma has been the centre-point of criticism over the past few months, having been made the scapegoat for the Proteas’ embarrassing exit from the T20 World Cup in Australia last month, where a defeat to the lowly Netherlands saw them miss out on the semi-finals.
Furthermore, Bavuma’s T20 form has constantly been scrutinised since returning from an elbow injury in October. Equally, the furore surrounding his omission from all six SA20 squads at the inaugural auction placed further strain on Bavuma, with the criticism on social media being particularly vile.
The 32-year-old has since returned from Australia and has not been seen in action for his province, the DP World Lions, in any of the three rounds of first-class that has been played since.
This is particularly concerning because Bavuma is expected to slot straight back into his crucial No 5 position in the Test line-up, particularly as he has actually performed splendidly in the longest format of the game this past year as he averages 46.12.
“For now it's personal between him and I,” Elgar told the media at the DP World Wanderers on Thursday about his discussions with Bavuma. “I respect what he’s been through. I, for one, couldn’t speak about what he’s been through. I wouldn’t know how to deal with it personally.
“So, for now, I am respecting the space he is in. I think the time off has maybe done him well. The conversation will start with him going forward. I think he just wanted a little break from the game, and you have to respect that as well. He has a lot of pressure on his plate.”
Elgar, though, expects his lieutenant to front up to the challenge of facing the old-adversaries Down Under when the first Test gets underway at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 17.
“At the end of the day we still have work to do, and we have to go to work again soon, and he needs to be in the right space for the team. That’s the message that I put forward to him.
“I’m pretty sure he will respond well. He hasn’t played a lot of cricket of late, but it's up to me to get him into the right space and give the best opportunity to play his brand of Test cricket for us.”