Temba Bavuma, South Africa’s white ball captain has shown a lot of progress since his appointment as a white ball captain. Initially, Quinton De Kock was named as the white ball captain as soon as Faf du Plessis stepped down from the South Africa captaincy, early in 2021. Not just white ball, de Kock was named in charge for all the three formats.
Although, everybody knew that the test captaincy was a short term arrangement for de kock, there was little doubt that the white ball captaincy would be up for a toss.
And in a surprise decision, Temba Bavuma assumed the role of South Africa’s white ball captaincy in March last year. It was a t20 world cup year and South Africa were not considered as one of the favourites in the tournament.
“It wasn’t something that I was expecting,” Bavuma says. “There was obviously anxiety and fear as to how I was going to take the team forward to new heights.
“The journey is still young with the white-ball teams, I must say. But I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
This was a historic appointment as well because Bavuma was South Africa’s first ever black captain.
He was appointed as a captain because of his experience in the South African circuit and also because of his good relations with the team mates.
“I was fortunate in that most of the guys, especially the senior guys, I’ve played with from school level,” he says. “We understand each other and, most importantly, the respect is there.
“I spend a lot of time with KG [Rabada] on and off the field. Shamo [Tabraiz Shamsi] and Quinton [de Kock], too. These are important players to have good relationships with as a captain.
“I pride myself in being honest, understanding where I can improve but also not losing focus from taking the team forward.”
The signs of progress clearly showed in the following months. A 3-2 win against the then- world champions West Indies and following it up with 3-0 series victory over Ireland and Sri Lanka. These victories helped them gain confidence in themselves and also to set up nicely for a decent world cup campaign.
South Africa actually performed brilliant in the world cup. Winning 4 out of their 5 matches, they caught everyone by surprise. Unfortunately dur to NRR( Net Run rate) they fell behind Australia in the race to book a spot for Semi-finals.
Initially, people were apprehensive about the Bavuma’s approach in white ball, specially in the T20s. But he eventually found his feet during the world cup in the middle order scoring 91 runs at an average of over 30.
“It can be a challenge to combine the two, but you have to make sure that you’re mentally fresh,” he says. “The captaincy can clutter your mind. It can be easy to play the game in your head and you don’t want that.
“I like to put the hard work in a few days out from the game. If you’re playing on a Friday, I’ll put the work in on Monday or Tuesday. And then the closer you get to the game, you focus more on the mental side.
“It’s so important to be clear with your plans and clear with what you want to do. Then anything else can just be discarded.”
Clearly he is not the kind of batter who has a power game or someone who can hit shots all over the park.
He draws his inspiration from the South African legend Hashim Amla. “I take a lot of inspiration from Hashim Amla,” he says. “When he first came into the system he wasn’t considered a classic T20 player but he was able to adapt his game.”
The focus now shifts to the white ball series against India. Having won the test series 2-1 against India, and winning the first ODI quite comprehensively, Bavuma’s men would be looking to lock the series winning the 2nd ODI as well.
His first home series as ODI captain was last April against Pakistan, but Bavuma says that this feels like the true beginning of his era on home soil.
Playing against a side which has dominated world cricket like anything during the last few years, the Proteas would have to show their class and punch above their weight as they did in the 1st ODI and in the test series as well. They will definitely be high in confidence, it’s just that they have to back it with performance on field.
“We understand the cricketing rivalry between the sides. These are series you want to be involved in and opponents you want to test yourselves against.
“We want to continue the journey towards being considered among the world’s best again.”
With the kind of progress that the proteas are making under Bavuma’s captaincy, and if they continue to improve and play quality cricket, Bavuma’s dream to take the South Africa back to the top may not be very far.