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Backing Bavuma will pay dividends for Proteas

21 Nov 2023
Simon Lewis 21 Nov 2023
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  • Temba Bavuma currently averages 48.03 runs per innings in ODIs.
  • South Africa play Afghanistan in their last group match of the 2023 Cricket World Cup on Friday 10 November.
  • South Africa will face off against Australia in their World Cup semi-final next week.
Temba Bavuma
Temba Bavuma hits to leg against Pakistan. (credit: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Selecting Bavuma is a no-brainer

Despite not delivering a substantial innings in this World Cup, Bavuma has the backing of his team and the leadership group, and he is confident that he will score the runs his team needs from him.

“The other batters are smashing it at the moment and I take comfort in the fact that I've been involved in some partnerships with Quinton up front,” says Bavuma. “You've got to keep that belief that the opportunity will be there for me to make a big play within the team. That's where my head is at, but a lot of comfort in the fact that with the guys being in form they've been able to exploit that and play the way that they've played.”

Bavuma remains confident that he will ride things out and put some scores on the board still in this World Cup, which is why he’s sticking to his processes and continuing to prepare in his usual way.

“If I'm doing that, hopefully, the result will take care of itself. And I believe that I'll have a part to play somewhere within the tournament,” adds Bavuma.

Great form coming into World Cup

Bavuma came into the World Cup in excellent form, having scored 114*, 46 & 57 against Australia. Last season he averaged 71.33 in ODIs, and he averages over 50 against Australia and England. Despite his poor run of form in this World Cup, his ODI average is still 48.03, but the most important thing is that he has been looking good at the crease. 

“From the start of the tournament we spoke about just trying to take it game by game, staying as present as we can. I believe we've done that very well. I also draw energy from the positive sentiment that's floating in and around the team,” says Bavuma.

Backing from De Kock

Opening partner Quinton de Kock has also spoken positively about Bavuma’s form with the bat.

“Yeah, I take a lot of confidence from what Quinton said in his press conference. That's something that I feel every day within the team. And I think it's probably due to the fact that there's a group of batters who've been with each other for the last three or four years. We've seen each other go through the little ups and the downs and we know that all of us mentally have what it takes to get over, I guess, the little challenges that we face,” adds Bavuma.

Journalists and fans are quick to jump on Bavuma the moment he goes through a lean trot with the bat, but they forget that Hanise Cronje had a lean time with the bat during the 1999 World Cup, and De Kock’s own World Cup form in 2015 and 2019 was a shadow of the heroics he has perrformed in this World Cup. The same applies to Markram’s own experience in 2019. 

Who could replace Bavuma?

Reeza Hendricks was superb standing in for Bavuma when the skipper had to return to South Africa for family reasons at the start of the World Cup. Hendricks scored 85 against England and 12 against Bangladesh, the two matches Aiden Markram captained in Bavuma’s absence, with the Proteas winning both matches. 

While the performances by Hendricks and Markram in those two matches were good, they should be considered in the context that both sides have been among the worst performers at this year’s World Cup. While it might seem on the surface that Hendricks could easily repace Bavuma, it must be remembered that Hendricks averages just 29.58 in ODIs compared to Bavuma’s 48.03. 

Even if Markram were to be given the captaincy, Bavuma should still be included in the Proteas’ best side based on his ODI average. Markram averages 37.79 in ODIs, while Klaasen is on 42.02, De Kock is 46.06, Rassie van der Dussen 54.63 and David Miller 42.36.

Cometh the hour, cometh the captain

With the Proteas now getting to the business end of the World Cup where they are facing Australia for a third time in a World Cup semi-final, continuity is one of the most important factors for the South African side. Bavuma has also built up a strong leadership character and presence over the past two seasons, and changing that now would represent a huge risk for a side that is settled and that has played superbly in six of their eight games during this World Cup. 

A further factor is that the pitches are starting to slow down, so we are less likely to see scores in the high 300s as the ball starts to bite and turn more. And, remember, not only is Bavuma one of our better players of spin, he’s also a player who has time after time stood up to the challenge when the Proteas have found themselves in trouble. 

Possibly the most important thing we can hope for in the semi-final (and, hopefully, our first-ever final), is to win the toss so that we get to set a target. If Temba can pull that off then he will have been worth his place in the line-up! 

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