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