Bavuma’s ODI omission due to ‘mental toll’ of World Cup and Test match preparation

Bavuma’s ODI omission due to ‘mental toll’ of World Cup and Test match preparation
Temba Bavuma of South Africa during the 2nd ODI match between South Africa and West Indies at Buffalo Park on 18 March 2023 in East London. (Photo: Richard Huggard / Gallo Images)

South Africa’s pace attack, along with Test captain Temba Bavuma, will play a round of domestic four-day cricket to prepare for the two-match Test series against India.

One-day international (ODI) captain Temba Bavuma will not take part in the three-match 50-over series against India this month. 

Instead, Bavuma — who is also the Proteas’ Test captain — will take a break from the game before returning to domestic cricket for a four-day series match for the Lions from 14-17 December in preparation for the Test series. 

rabada test preparation

Kagiso Rabada of the Proteas celebrates the wicket of Sam Curran of England during the ODI against England at Mangaung Oval on 27 January 2023 in Bloemfontein. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

Kagiso Rabada is in the same boat, while the other fast bowlers, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee and Lungi Ngidi will be available for selection for the opening two T20Is against India before joining their skipper and Rabada on the four-day circuit.

“We’re prioritising readiness for the Test matches, given it’s the start of the World Test Championship,” said ODI coach Rob Walter at a press conference on Monday. 

That round of four-day matches clashes with the ODI series against India, so the entire pace attack is unavailable for the three 50-over matches. 

“Other players had the option as well,” Test coach Shukri Conrad said. 

“This is where we have to trust the players in terms of what their ideal preparation looks like. I’m comfortable with what’s come back.

bavuma test preparation

Temba Bavuma of the Proteas during the ODI against Australia at Mangaung Oval on 7 September 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: Charle Lombard / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

“I’m really looking forward to a refreshed bowling attack as well as having had adequate preparation for the Test series.”

Bavuma still captain

Despite being omitted from the 50-over side for the series against India, Walter confirmed that Bavuma remains the leader of the team. 

“There’s no change, he’s the skipper of the ODI side. He’s been phenomenal throughout the year,” Walter said.

“Also there’s a mental toll to the pressures of a World Cup and the scrutiny of a skipper through all of that.

“So, it’s important for him to be able to step away from the game for a little while and just prioritise being ready for the Test matches.” 

Bavuma has been the Proteas’ most prolific Test batter for the past three years. 

“Again, the Test matches are our priority and in order to make sure our best players are in the best shape for those games, that drives our decision-making,” Walter said.

“Whilst it may seem like a progressive decision, it’s actually pretty easy to make those kinds of calls. 

“If the player and the two of us [Conrad and Walter] are all on the same page … it made sense, it was the right thing to do, it was the right thing to do for Temba and his cricket as well. 

Mental toll 

Walter and Conrad — who have served as the selectors of their respective squads since the start of their tenures — worked together to assemble the three squads with a particular focus on winning the Test series. 

India have never won a Test series in South Africa. 

The two coaches have called up several youngsters in the white-ball squads to help relieve the burdened shoulders of a few of the players who travelled to India for the recent World Cup — where South Africa lost to eventual champions Australia in the semifinals. 

“There’s no doubt that there’s a significant mental and physical toll on everyone,” Walter said. 

“Hence the decision to give all players at least a 10-day step-away from the game, for both physical and mental reasons. 

“Unfortunately, the reality of it is, you have to get back on the horse. You have to play again. 

“I never underestimate what playing for your country does. I think the inclusion of some fresh energy really does bring a different dynamic to a squad. 

“Even if the majority of the squad was in India, having some fresh energy around the group definitely adds to being back in the green and gold for South Africa. 

“I think you’ll see a highly committed team; I have no doubt about that.” 

By most objective viewpoints, South Africa outperformed expectations at the World Cup and, according to Walter, the side is moving forward in a positive way. 

“The general sense after the tournament — even on the last day or two together that we were in India — was actually a real positive sentiment,” the white-ball coach said. 

“Of course, it’s disappointing to miss out — it knocks you hard in terms of the disappointment of doing that — but the guys were proud and I was super proud of the way they played.” DM


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  • John Buchan says:

    Odd, I haven’t heard of other 2023 WC captains bailing from stress/mental pressures. Doubt if Clive Rice, Graham Smith or Kepler Wessels would have done so. Pressure of sleeping in front of the worlds TV’s taken its toll?

    • Francois Smith says:

      Bavuma is stressed as he knows that he once again considered himself not only to be bigger than the South African team, but than cricket as whole. He should have been rested for the T20 and ODI World Cups. His captaincy is not that great and he is definitely not in the team as a batsman. For that you need to score runs. RSA cricket is typical of ANC mentality: We will rather all lose with the alleged correct representation than to win with the best people.

    • J vN says:

      Exactly. Cricket is largely about inches. Those between your ears. If you’re not mentally strong enough to take the pressure, you’re not captain – or even international – material. Bavuma is clearly not mentally strong enough.

      • jason du toit says:

        where does all the bavuma hate come from?

        @francois: even after his disappointing WC, bavuma averages 49 at a 97 strike rate in ODIs in 2023. saying he is “definitely not in the team as a batsman” makes me seem you are a WC watcher and not a cricket lover who watches the game outside of big tournaments. coming into the WC, his 2023 average was 80 at 104!

        he was 11th on the batting world rankings coming into the WC.

        his WC was 18 at 74. but WC failures happen. look at kallis in 2003 (at home!): 16 at 71! bavuma’s previous WC (in 2021) was 43 at 89.

        he has the 6th highest ODI average of all south africans (20 innings or more) – higher than de kock, kallis (!), miller, klusener, kirsten (both of them), smith, gibbs, cronje, mckenzie, duminy, rhodes, rudolph.

        he has the 13th highest strike rate (20 innings or more) – just less than klusener and higher than pehlukwayo, du plessis, amla, van der dussen, pollock, boucher, gibbs (!), kemp, rhodes, smith (!).

        as an opener in ODIs he massively outperforms de kock: 52 at 96 vs 46 at 97 (that’s a 13% higher average).

        where is all this talk about not being a good batsman coming from?

        he has the backing of his team and is respected by the coach and the players. he is not a flashy, outgoing, noticeable leader. but he is a good leader nonetheless. as an ODI captain, he averages 44 at 88 with a 56% winrate.

        his last three test seasons have averages of 50, 47 and 43. as captain, he averages 50.

        • Francois Smith says:

          He was not on form and injured for the second time round. All the averages doesn’t matter if you go for a duck when the team needed an anchoring 30 or even 20. We were one batsman short going into the match simply because of political correctness.

  • Coen Gous says:

    In the bigger scheme of things, the series against India is actually not important. The WC’s were! South Africa have very little test playing opportunities in the next few years. Test cricket has almost become the exclusive privilege of England, India and Australia, thanks to the ICC. SA had to rely on India to host the 20:20 franchise series in Jan. and Feb. Club/franchise cricket in SA struggling to keep heads above water due to poor attendance numbers and finance. The less said about Bavuma the better. His name has become synonymise with failure. Yet Cricket SA cling onto him like duct tape.

  • Ajay San says:

    I think Walter should also have a permanent sabbatical with Bavuma. Both are either stupid or just ANC puppets.

  • Bonzo Gibbon says:

    One can only guess why Bavuma is being attacked. Certainly his excellent record justifies his place in the side, and he has been a good captain. He is not a quota selection. Key players in all international teams are rested/rotated these days, especially those who play in multiple formats.

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