Sport / Cricket

Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
3 minute read
5 Nov 2021
1:05 pm

‘Only our best cricket will do,’ says Bavuma ahead of England game

Ken Borland

"We need to find a way to add an extra 5% in all departments," said the skipper.

Temba Bavuma will be hoping his Proteas team beat England and Australia lose at the T20 World Cup on Saturday. Picture: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

When a South African leader talks about finding an extra 5% it’s normally the Minister of Finance trying to balance the books in a time of constrained fiscus.

But Proteas captain Temba Bavuma admitted on Friday that this is what his team will need to do to beat England in Sharjah and maintain their hopes of qualifying for the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

Depending on Australia’s margin of victory or defeat against the West Indies in Saturday’s earlier game in Abu Dhabi, South Africa could advance to the semi-finals even if they lose narrowly to England or could still be knocked out even if they beat the favourites.

Bavuma said the Proteas’ focus was simply on winning, and to do that they needed to be at their best on Saturday.

“We need to play our best cricket on Saturday and our first port of call is the win. Although our cricket has been good so far, we need to find a way to add an extra 5% in all departments,” Bavuma said.

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“England have had the better of us lately, so we have to be at our best against them. We can’t leave it to individuals, we can’t rely on individual brilliance, it’s all about us as a team.

“We want to show the same character we have done and fight to the end. Every game we have tailored our strategy according to the opposition and England are obviously a very good team.

“So we will come up with plans that speak to England’s strengths and weaknesses, but mentally our approach should not be any different. The players and management have been through a lot and we have grown as a team,” Bavuma said.

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Bavuma may be a playful character out of the spotlight, but he is clearly taking the responsibility of leading the national team at a World Cup most seriously. He is also extremely diligent about fulfilling his batting role, over which there has been much chatter recently.

His strike-rate of 108.33 has been a particular focus, as was his run-a-ball innings of 46 against Sri Lanka the last time they played in Sharjah.

“If you look at conditions, they have not been free-flowing and you can’t just come in and hit the first ball out of the middle of the bat,” said Bavuma. “We’ve really had to graft as a batting unit.

“I feel I can do a role up front or in the middle to hold the game and allow the big-hitters to get into the game. We’ve seen that’s worked in this World Cup, we feel it’s what’s best and we back it.

“We really do know now after the Sri Lanka game that the pitch in Sharjah will be on the low side. In terms of our batting, we took the game quite deep and what we have learnt is that we should have pulled the trigger a bit earlier.”