regular-article-logo Saturday, 23 September 2023

Temba Bavuma, leader who defies odds

The South African skipper displayed leadership qualities needed for a team in transition and also tackling racism-related issues off the field

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 25.01.22, 01:01 AM
Temba Bavuma.

Temba Bavuma. Facebook

From Dean Elgar, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada and young Marco Jansen to Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen, each one of them was instrumental in guiding the Proteas to prevail over an Indian side that had been widely expected to roll over the hosts in both Tests and ODIs.

Alongside them stood out another individual. Temba Bavuma, the 31-year-old limited-overs captain armed with a calm demeanour and mental toughness. Bavuma displayed leadership qualities needed for a team in transition and also tackling racism-related issues off the field.


These off-field issues, plaguing South Africa even before India’s tour got underway, threatened to disrupt their impressive run when head coach Mark Boucher was charged with racial misconduct by Cricket South Africa on the eve of the second ODI in Paarl last week.

By Bavuma’s own admission, though, captaining the team amid the off-field happenings hasn’t been easy. “There are a lot of dynamics that you need to manage. For me, the biggest thing was trying to keep cricket (as) the main focus among the guys,” Bavuma said after South Africa swept the ODI series 3-0 in Cape Town on Sunday.

“I hate to bring this up, but it’s been a challenging period for the team, for the players and for particular members of the (team) management. There has been a lot of scrutiny surrounding the team and surrounding the organisation, so to manage the conversations happening around the change-room and to ensure our energy is 100 per cent geared towards performing out there has been the biggest challenge for me.

“It has been a big responsibility as well as a privilege. But it’s not easy,” a candid Bavuma said.

Improved batsman

The road hasn’t been all smooth for Bavuma, who was born in a township (Langa) outside Cape Town, before he became the first-ever black player to be picked as a specialist batsman in the South African Test squad (in December 2014). Despite an unbeaten 102 versus England in Cape Town six years ago, Bavuma wasn’t consistent enough in the long format.

However, in the recent home Tests versus India, Bavuma made sure to change the script. Particularly against a strong Indian bowling attack, he chipped in with contributions in the form of unbroken second-innings partnerships of 68 with Elgar and 57 with Van der Dussen in Johannesburg and Cape Town, respectively, alongside two half-centuries that were equally pivotal to the Proteas’ Test series win.

“Temba loves his cricket and has the respect of his teammates,” former South Africa batsman Daryll Cullinan told The Telegraph on Monday.

“His century (110) in the first one-dayer (in Paarl) had set the tone. Bigger challenges will come when South Africa play away, but for now, Temba has been fitting in well and, more importantly, scoring runs. It’s a happier team when the captain is scoring runs.”

Follow us on: