CWC 2023

Bavuma remains defiant over selection and won’t be stepping down as Proteas captain

Bavuma remains defiant over selection and won’t be stepping down as Proteas captain
Temba Bavuma, captain of South Africa hits out for four during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match between South Africa and New Zealand at MCA International Stadium on 1 November 2023 in Pune, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma might have struggled with the bat throughout the World Cup but he won’t be stepping down to appease social media.

While Australia and India did battle for the Cricket World Cup title on Sunday, several Proteas players quietly landed back home at OR Tambo International Airport throughout the day after their semi-final exit to the eventual champions last week.

Captain and coach Temba Bavuma and Rob Walter landed on Saturday evening to no fanfare.

The skipper had a difficult World Cup with the bat, knocking only 145 runs in eight innings at an average of 18.12.

Of the seven matches he captained during the group stage of the tournament, South Africa were victorious in five.

“I’m there as the captain and I’m there as a batsman. I try to separate the two,” Bavuma said at the arrival home.

“I don’t know what the metric is to judge someone if they’re captaining well. 

“We won the most games in the group stage out of any South African team.

“We beat teams that haven’t been beaten in a while in World Cups so what metrics are we going to use to judge whether a guy is using the job as the captain?

“As a batter, that I’m not oblivious to, I wasn’t pulling my weight from that point of view. But we take a lot of confidence from the fact that I was involved in partnerships at the top.

“Partnerships are one of my roles in the team and you had a lot of guys who were taking on that extra responsibility from a runs point of view.”

Rob Walter

Rob Walter during the South Africa men’s national cricket team squad announcement at Grey College on 5 September 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: Charle Lombard/Gallo Images)

Not stepping down

The captain entered the semi-final with a hamstring niggle that he picked up in the final round-robin match against Afghanistan.

He admitted that he was not 100% fit for the semi-final against Australia however he acknowledged that there was no chance of him not playing the match.

Through his lack of form and playing despite an ailing hamstring, the captain became the scapegoat for many for the semi-final loss.

Bavuma was dismissed for a four-ball duck after a snorter of an away swinger by Mitchell Starc.

“For me to step down in a World Cup semifinal, that thought is strange,” he said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Déjà vu as Proteas stumble again to Australia in a Cricket World Cup semifinal 

“I am not someone who is going to walk away from adversity, I am not someone who is going to answer to calls from people shouting on Twitter or Facebook. Decisions I make will always be for the betterment of the team.

“I have said it from the beginning that if any of the guys stood there and said, ‘Temba, you are not the man for the job as captain,’ then I would happily walk away.

“These are the bunch of guys who we have been together since 2020. We know each other through and through, and we know what we play for. I am not the guy who is on Twitter or Facebook.

“Yes, I was not 100%, but if you know anything about professional cricket you will know guys don’t play cricket at 100% all the time. I have played games for the country with broken fingers and done well.

“People have never questioned [when] I have played a series with a groin injury and done well. So, for that to be used as an excuse for the [reason] of our exit at the competition is crazy, with all due respect.”

Temba Bavuma and Rob Walter

Temba Bavuma (captain) of South Africa interacts with head coach Rob Walter during the South Africa men’s national cricket team training session at Arun Jaitley Stadium on 6 October 2023 in Delhi, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images)

Walter’s support

Head coach Walter, was in firm defence of his captain and was confident, going into the semi-final match, that Bavuma’s injury wouldn’t hinder his batting.

“If you looked at him in the field, if you didn’t know that he wasn’t 100%, you wouldn’t have guessed,” Walter said at the post-match press conference.

“So, in terms of being 100%, I think he was pretty close. I mean, he went through the entire week, he got better every day.

“The only potential red flag might have been if something happened in the field. But from a batting point of view, we were confident that he would be able to bat properly, run between wickets properly and if anything might not have had the intensity in the field in terms of chasing balls down that he would normally have.

“But he was sort of weighing that up with having him on the field, present as the captain. And for me, that trumps it every day, having his leadership and his presence on the field is everything. And so, we spoke about it, he said ‘I’m not 100% but I can definitely play and I want to be on the park’.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Vic Mash says:

    South Africa could do better than Bavuma, can’t we start afresh and select a new team and captain?

  • Wade Swanepoel says:

    The more times goes on I feel Bavuma is digging his grave a lot deeper.

    I feel he is surrounded by ignorance and pure delusion. The fact that he believes he contributed to partnerships and helped the team is crazy. An average of 18 isn’t a contribution it’s a handicap. Thought this tournament the pressure has been on the rest of the batsmen and bowlers.

    I can’t understand how a national team and coach sits back and defends mediocrity.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Besides being the right thing to do, South Africa sport must have diversity to grow, rugby being a shining example of this truth. Bavuma does far more for South African cricket than just wield a bat.

      • Rob Glenister says:

        There are plenty of others who do the same, and contribute to the game as well.

      • Malcolm Mitchell says:

        What exactly does he do as you suggest? If you have ever played cricket at a representative level you will know how unsettling an early wicket down against you is, from 5 day test matches to 20 over matches.

    • Gregory Martin says:

      Because prior to the tournament, for the proceeding 24 months, he was the leading run scorer and one of the main reasons we just managed to qualify for the WC. If we were going to destroy captains and end their careers because they didn’t win a World Cup there would be a long line of SA greats we’d need to do it too before Bavuma.

      • Mbulelo Journey says:

        Well said.
        I generally don’t agree with the idea of dropping a captain in the middle of a World Cup campaign. We did much better than I think most people thought we would with him as captain at that, so the risks with dropping him I think outweigh any positives (it’s not like he was keeping ABD out of the team).
        We should look to the new cycle now and with that, a change of leadership now given his age makes sense, it shouldn’t be controversial whether he steps down or the management makes the call. The new captain can then start without the drama, pressure, and negativity (and potentially hate speech and threats) coming in for Bavuma in the middle of the tournament would have brought.

        • andrew farrer says:

          BS! there was more than enough leadership in the team/ squad 7 he could have motivatred the team from the side, even coming onto the field as a water carrier. Yes, his form coming into the wc was good, but he couldn’t handle the Indian wickets. Just based on that he should have taken a step back and let Hendriks play. Then add to that the fact he was injured! Walter should also have had the balls to bench him! Sorry he’s lost my vote and respect!

  • Bavuma is not captain material and also does not deserve selection as a batter. The team gets better results when he doesn’t play.

  • Rob Glenister says:


  • L. Sojini says:

    His comments are worrying.

  • Simon Schaffer says:

    Unfortunately as long as there is cadre deployment in our national team we won’t be winning any silverware anytime soon.

  • Mike Lawrie says:

    If Bavuma insists that he gave a 100% performance and so all is well, then he is blind to the fact that his performance was mediocre. He should not step down, he should be dropped. The coach likewise. We need winners, not losers, in our sports teams.

  • Colin Louw says:

    I think we all skirt the ultimate problem with the situation. Selection is not currently based purely on merit. Under a pure merit system Bavuma would even qualify as a fourth choice, in fact he would seriously battle to even be in the reserves given his batting averages over the last 12 months never mind this contest! I think Fanie below misses the point! I agree we need to foster diversity BUT that starts at grass roots not at National team level! Sure you need to show that colour is not an inhibiting factor but putting in an incompetent person of colour has a more damaging effect to the process of diversity than not having him there embarrassing the other folk of colour! There were many alternatives to Bavuma – Aiden is an excellent captain who has a superior knowledge in field placing to Bavuma who really should have known that a policy to try and limit runs was never going to win the game – he needed to agressively go for wickets! Reeza has a better batting average under pressure and his possible 30 runs would have changed the game odds significantly. No it was a classical repeat of the disastrous forced selection back in a previous semi which led to the same outcome.

    • Wilhelm van Rooyen says:

      fully agree – it’s less about Bavuma and more about the process that is followed to pick the best side. he just wasn’t on form and shouldn’t have been picked. Everyone can see that, so now the whole situation is to his ultimate detriment. There were times when I thought Kolisi was going down the same hole – when his game wasn’t up to scratch – but he upped his game and ultimately deserved his place in the team on merit and came flying through.

  • cynthia TSUELA says:

    Eish the less said, the better

  • Charl_g says:

    Sadly this just sets the bokke and the proteas apart – one captain has the teams interests first and the other has his own interests first.

    Step down and prove you are the best opening partner. Your selfishness costs us – Jacque and Rassie would never let an injured player play.

  • Gregory Martin says:

    We went into this World Cup with no expectations. Our team is not that good. Our captain Bavuma was our leading batsman ito runs scored/avg over the previous 24 months by a long shot and a major reason we managed to scrape through and qualify. Majority of SA would’ve been happy to just make it out the group stage before the tournament. Now we want to destroy a good man, a recognised good captain because our avg team were not able to beat the eventual champions in the semi-final? SA top 6 collectively lost form as the tournament progressed. Aus top 6 came into form. That was the difference. Get off his back, Temba is not the scapegoat bigotry needs.

  • Gavin Hillyard says:

    It is a fact that Themba was not up to par with the bat and he played two games not being 100% fit. This, I feel, displays poor judgement by the selectors. In my opinion he also made poor bowling choices – for example in the semis he brought on Jansen, going at 9 runs an over, to bowl the last over with Australia needing just 7 runs. Surely Gerald Coetzee was the obvious choice. I feel he should step away from the national team and build his confidence by playing provincial cricket, before making a come-back. I believe Kershav Maharaj is the man for the job. His record speaks for itself. We must salute our cricketers. They can be proud of getting to the semis only to be beaten by arguably the hungriest and most committed team in the world at the moment.

  • Mbulelo Journey says:

    To be fair to the skipper, I read this article, maybe I missed it, but I don’t see anywhere where he says he won’t be stepping down. For me he was talking about the World Cup and why he did not step down in the middle of the campaign and specifically for the semi-final, past tense not the future.

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    There is no “I” in team and there lies the huge difference between captains when you compare him and Kolisi. Have you ever heard Kolisi saying I did this, I made this decision? It is always we achieved that as a collective we thought it was better to sit xyz out, and there lies the strength of our rugby team and coaching staff and the weakness of our cricket team and coaching staff.

  • Ajay San says:

    He is an arrogant, egotist with a me first mentality.
    He is neither an opening bat or a captain. I hope both he and the coach watched the AUS/Ind game and saw both the captains field placings and bowling changes.
    WE need a captain who can think out of the box and be an inspiration not someone who sits in the shadows with his blanket.

  • Hannes Waterboer says:

    The selection committee of Cricket SA has a unique selection policy: 5 batsmen + 5 boulers + 1 captain = 11 on the field. TembaBavuma will NEVER EVER be the Siya Kolisi of SA cricket. Themba’s batting, captaincy and social skills are not on the same level as Siya’s rugby, captaincy and social skills. Cricket SA must seriously consider investing in the captaincy of Kagiso Ramada.

  • Wayne Holt says:

    Bavuma is clearly the symptom of the problem… the administration seems to be the only ones not see it because they are the problem

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