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Temba Bavuma scores historic second Test-match century against West Indies

Temba Bavuma scores historic second Test-match century against West Indies
An elated Temba Bavuma celebrates his first Test century in seven years with a delighted Wiaan Mulder looking on. (Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Skipper Temba Bavuma struck his first century in seven years, a magnificent 171 off 275 balls, to help South Africa to a strong position on day three against West Indies.

Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma took 2,621 days between his first and second Test centuries, but his unbeaten 171 against West Indies at the Wanderers made the wait seem worth it. It was an innings of grit and flamboyance at a time when his team needed someone to take control of the match.

Bavuma played a sumptuous, lofted drive over mid-off, off the bowling of the impressive Alzarri Joseph to bring up the milestone. That was the culmination of a day of hard graft at the crease.

“I got a ball outside off stump. I definitely wasn’t going to try to hit it on the ground. I just kind of went for it,” Bavuma said after the day’s play.

It is often said in Test cricket that a batters’ worth is measured in the number of hundreds they record.

West Indies seamer Kyle Mayers was the pick of the bowlers for the tourists on day three. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

A second hundred

So, for Bavuma to finally reach his second one, after just more than seven years, and 5,792 deliveries since his first – against England at Newlands in 2016 – it was a huge relief.

“I tried to stay within the moment as much as I could. When I got to 96 or so, the energy in the crowd (there were probably 2,000 people in the ground) started picking up in anticipation of the milestone,” said the captain.

“My emotions also started picking up, and I just went with it at that moment.”

Prior to the start of the Test series against West Indies, Bavuma spoke about his admiration of the Caribbean nation, playing a big role in his love for the sport, and idolising Brian Lara growing up.

In a full-circle moment, the diminutive batter reached his milestone against the Windies with the legendary Lara in attendance, applauding his achievement.

“West Indies, sentimentally, means quite a lot. I think that adds quite a lot,” Bavuma said.

Bavuma’s first Test century, the unbeaten 102 he scored against England, happened in Cape Town, close to where he grew up in Langa township.

And his second, happened in his new home town of Johannesburg.

“That Temba was young back then, very naive, ignorant of everything around,” Bavuma said about what’s changed in the seven years between his two hundreds.

“Now I have a better understanding of myself, of my surroundings, the pressures and the challenges of my being, within international cricket.”

It also happened to be Bavuma’s maiden first-class century at the Wanderers, where he plays domestic cricket for the Lions – another milestone. 

“The guys are always teasing me about that, that my name is not up there on the honours board. I’m happy I can [now] stick it to the guys,” he joked.

Reymon Reifer of the West Indies celebrates the dismissal of Ryan Rickelton of South Africa with his teammates during day 3 of the 2nd Betway Test match between South Africa and West Indies at DP World Wanderers Stadium on March 10, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Temba Bavuma of South Africa during day 3 of the 2nd Betway Test match between South Africa and West Indies at DP World Wanderers Stadium on March 10, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Tough start

The red-ball skipper crossed the boundary ropes with his side in a precarious position of eight runs with two wickets down, within the first four overs of the day’s play.

“During my Test career, I’ve always found myself in those situations,” said Bavuma.

 “Coming in at five or six, where you’re 20 for four or 10 for two, whatever it is… And you have to try to soak in the pressure, absorb, and then when the opportunity comes, try to release it.”

And release the pressure he did with sumptuous stroke play, not seen by any of South Africa’s batters on day three.

The wickets of Aiden Markram, Ryan Rickelton and Heinrich Klaasen all fell around him, while he looked like he was playing on a different surface.

Markram (18) received a peach of a delivery by Kemar Roach, to be dismissed, while Rickelton (10) and Klaasen (14) never really looked comfortable at the crease before throwing their wickets away with poor shot selection.

Bavuma continued calmly and brought up his 50 and the team’s 100 with a classy flick off his pads to the square-leg boundary – as he scored the bulk of the side’s runs.

The captain eventually found a willing partner in all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, who stood by his side as the pair put on a 103-run stand for the sixth partnership.

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Bavuma and Mulder took the Proteas from a hazardous position of 103 for five to 206, before Mulder was dismissed for a career-best 42.

Temba Bavuma of South Africa survives a runout attempt during day 3 of the 2nd Betway Test match between South Africa and West Indies at DP World Wanderers Stadium on March 10, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Mulder – who plays domestic cricket with Bavuma – was at the crease when the skipper brought up three figures, and rejoiced in celebration as though he’d scored a century of his own.

“My mindset was just to stick to what I was doing. [Scoring a] hundred wasn’t really the objective, the objective was to get to the end of day’s play, and I guess the hundred just came along the way,” Bavuma said.

Simon Harmer was at the crease next, and played a steady hand of 19 runs off 59 balls to support the captain.

Bavuma opened his shoulders a bit more and raced to 150, the 13th time a South African captain has reached the mark.

Harmer and Bavuma put on a fantastic rear-end partnership of 71 to take South Africa’s lead beyond 340 runs.

Harmer was eventually dismissed LBW by Jason Holder, who bowled valiantly – without much luck – throughout the day.

Maharaj and Bavuma will continue to attempt to put the match beyond West Indies’ reach on day four, when they take the field at the Bullring, on 287 for seven with a 356-run lead. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Philip Armstrong says:

    Good on Bavuma. Red ball cricket and ODI’s are where he is best suited and setting him up in T20 as captain really did him no favours. Hopefully the haters will cut him some slack.

  • Anthony Katakuzinos says:

    Well done Temba. A great innings. Very classy and great confidence. Good luck with the captancy. Well done on winning the series.

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