CWC 2023

Temba Bavuma — In defence of a sportsman struggling to find his form

Temba Bavuma — In defence of a sportsman struggling to find his form
Captain Temba Bavuma in action against Australia in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in September 2023. (Photo: Charle Lombard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma averages a shade above 20 in the ongoing Cricket World Cup. His current frailties with the bat have been overshadowed by the strength of the rest of the batting order. However, he remains the best option to take the team forward.

Proteas’ skipper Temba Bavuma has been poor with the bat in the ongoing Cricket World Cup. His top score in the tournament was a scratchy 35 off 55 against Australia in the side’s second match. 

That didn’t matter too much as red-hot Quinton de Kock struck a delightful century to guide South Africa to a 134-run win over the old foes. 

Bavuma looked good for his 28 off 27 against Pakistan, and his 24 off 28 against New Zealand, before throwing both starts away.

The captain currently averages 20.33 in the tournament at a lowly strike rate of 73.93. That does not make for pretty reading. 

But in reality, the situation could not be more different. Bavuma is an extraordinary 50-over cricketer. Despite his six glum innings in the tournament, he still averages 48 in the format.

The rest of the top six have been in excellent form – and the Proteas have won six out of eight matches – which has largely masked his struggles with the willow.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Kohli and Jadeja secure India’s record Cricket World Cup victory over pedestrian Proteas

Outside of David Miller, every other batter in the top six has notched up a century already in the World Cup. 

De Kock is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 550, which includes four centuries. Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen are both in the top ten run-scorers. Markram has 371 and Van der Dussen 366, averaging 53 and 45.75 respectively. 

Heinrich Klaasen has been expectedly destructive in the middle order, notching up 316 runs at 45.14, and a scarcely believable strike rate of 144.29. 

Miller has 231 at an average of 38.5, but is lashing the ball cleanly with a superb strike rate of 127.62. 

There is no shortage of runs but the team needs their captain to lead from the front. 

Matthew Breetzke and Reeza Hendricks during the 3rd KFC T20 International match between South Africa and Australia at Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium on 3 September 2023 in Durban. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Reeza Hendricks replacement?

The replacement batter in the Proteas’ World Cup squad is Reeza Hendricks. Hendricks came in for an ill Bavuma against England and Bangladesh, where he struck 85 off 75, and 12 off nine, respectively. 

At face value, the scenario is eerily similar to last year’s T20 World Cup when Bavuma hit 70 runs in five innings, while leading the side to a group stage exit while on-form Hendricks sat on the bench. 

But in reality, the situation could not be more different. Bavuma is an extraordinary 50-over cricketer. Despite his six glum innings in the tournament, he still averages 48 in the format. He averaged 71 this year heading into the tournament, and knocked three centuries and two half-centuries to guide the side to qualifying for the World Cup in the first place.

Hendricks, in comparison, has one career century – a delightful 102 he struck on ODI debut – while his career average is under 30, and he strikes at 80.41 compared to Bavuma’s 89.37. 

Hendricks’ stats this year are slightly better than his career stats, averaging 43.20 at a strike rate of 92.30 — which are both less than a struggling Bavuma’s. 

While Hendricks has proven to be an able replacement, statistically, there is daylight between the two batters in the 50-over format.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Proteas are delivering near-flawless games, but can they cut to the chase? 

Bavuma’s opening partner, De Kock, has suggested that a big score is imminent for the captain.

bavuma proteas pakistan

Proteas’ skipper Temba Bavuma during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match against Australia in Lucknow, India, on 12 October 2023. (Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

‘Keeps finding a way to keep getting out’

“I think Temba has been batting very well. He’s looked very solid up front, and then somehow just keeps finding a way to keep getting out,” De Kock told SuperSport after the team’s win over New Zealand.

“He’s still feeling very good about his own game. Temba always backs himself, which is a good thing and a good trait to have.

“He’s not fazed, at least I hope he’s not, he doesn’t look like he is but the last couple of innings he’s batted really well, then found ways to get out.

“It’s something all of us batters have gone through in our careers, where we feel really good but somehow find a way to get ourselves out.

“I’ve got a feeling in one or two of these games – especially in an important game – that’s when he’s going to come through for us. That’s Temba Bavuma in a package.” 

Bavuma’s reputation as a back-to-the-wall batter has been evident throughout his international career.

The Proteas men’s team have never made a World Cup final and – having secured a place in the semi-final of the tournament already – the opportunity to silence naysayers and do justice to his record and selection is around the corner. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Wade Swanepoel says:

    Unfortunately I disagree with this article. Yes bavuma is a decent batter, however in my opinion I feel he is not good enough and is way to inconsistent to be a batsman for the proteas. He is not a young up and coming, I personally feel he is holding back the development and opportunities of other younger players (Brevis) from making an impact in the team. He has plain and simply not proven his worth and I doubt that he will in the remaining games.

  • shardon says:

    Maybe Markram should open and Bavuma moved down the order. Or Brevis or Ferreira selected as in-form batsmen in Bavuma’s place.

    • Markus Baartman says:

      Those two guys are not even in the squad. They are very good allrounders and will in future get a look-in to the national ODI squad. It has been our approach to first get guys into the t20 before 50 over squads. Their time will come.

  • Clint Waltman says:

    A captain needs to lead from the front. If he was honest with himself he would fall in his sword and make way for someone else in form. It’s not every day you make a World Cup Semi… So let’s no squander this out moment.

  • John Pearse says:

    Agree with Clint, needs to fall on his sword. Can’t take on teams like India with 10 1/2 players.

  • Arthur M says:

    The batting is a distinct problem but some of his on field decisions against India were plain wrong e.g. keeping Jansen bowling when they tonking him all over the place

  • Gary Olsen says:

    Forget about his batting, his all round captaincy has been pretty substandard. His body language, communication and leadership response to a crisis situation we have faced as a bowling/fielding team are both evident of a weak skill set for which he has been appointed. You can hear the commentators including Sean Pollock constantly suggesting alternative plans and field settings to what has evolved on the field.

  • Gordon Bentley says:

    Good article, Keanan.
    It would be a terrible blow to Temba’s self esteem, if he were to be dropped for another younger batsman.

    I will be now be supporting Temba: Go Temba go win the cup for all of us.

  • Guys lets stop with the niceties, Mr Bavuma is just not good enough. He has not proven his worth to even warrant the captaincy given to him. In addition this is a world cup we cant wait for him to find his form while he struggles. Lets get the guy on form in and someone else can lead the team. If we are not careful we will not even make the final, while we await the skipper to find form, he best do that on the bench least he still be in the team post world cup.

  • Markus Baartman says:

    Temba is a class batter. Maybe more a test batter, but still with a strike rate of 89 in ODI’s. I would prefer him coming in at the first wicket down, just so he can maybe have a look at the pace and movement off the difficult Indian pitches.

  • Bavuma is just not good enough at international level let alone at captaincy.

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