Ken Borland

By Ken Borland

Journalist


Brevis all the rage; critics all up in arms about Bavuma

How quickly things can change in cricket is one of the prime attractions of the game; the vacillating fortunes are why players are always entreated to mine a good run of form for as long as they can.


Five days ago, Dewald Brevis was all the rage as the most exciting T20 talent anyone had ever seen, while Temba Bavuma’s continued presence at the top of the order for South Africa at the T20 World Cup had people all up in arms, many of them enraged, judging by social media comments. This weekend, however, Brevis will open the batting for the Northerns Titans in the CSA T20 Challenge final with his mortality exposed, having looked all at sea against the sheer pace of Free State Knights fast bowler Gerald Coetzee in their semi-final. Bavuma will open the batting…

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Five days ago, Dewald Brevis was all the rage as the most exciting T20 talent anyone had ever seen, while Temba Bavuma’s continued presence at the top of the order for South Africa at the T20 World Cup had people all up in arms, many of them enraged, judging by social media comments.

This weekend, however, Brevis will open the batting for the Northerns Titans in the CSA T20 Challenge final with his mortality exposed, having looked all at sea against the sheer pace of Free State Knights fast bowler Gerald Coetzee in their semi-final.

Bavuma will open the batting for the Proteas in the early hours of Sunday morning against the Netherlands, some confidence renewed after it all finally clicked against the powerful Pakistan pace attack and he struck a commanding 36 off just 19 balls.

‘All’ the Proteas have to do is beat the Netherlands and they will be in the semi-finals off the T20 World Cup, and all true South African fans will be hoping the skipper builds on the promise of his previous innings.

Mine good form

How quickly things can change in cricket is one of the prime attractions of the game; the vacillating fortunes are why players are always entreated to mine a good run of form for as long as they can.

If someone asks me for my list of the top-10 T20 innings I have seen, then Brevis’s outrageous, record-breaking 162 off 57 balls is on mine.

Coming from someone whose talent has already had people shouting from the rooftops, it was understandable that the innings was greeted with a wave of public opinion that the 19-year-old should be rushed straight into the Proteas team.

Also read: SA’s U-19 batting star Dewald Brevis: Four things to know

But we need to be careful not to extrapolate too much from one innings. When Dave Callaghan blasted 169 not out off just 143 balls, an incredible scoring rate back in 1994, for South Africa against New Zealand at Centurion, he looked a world beater and it was also one of the best innings I have seen.

But as good a cricketer as Callaghan was, the innings unfortunately proved to be a once-off and his next highest score in 24 other ODI innings was just 45 not out.

On October 31, Brevis knocked two sixes and three fours off Coetzee as he scored 29 runs off 13 balls against the highly-rated 22-year-old. Coetzee eventually had his nemesis caught on the boundary in the final over.

On fire

On November 2, this time given the new ball against Brevis, Coetzee, pride hurt, was on fire. He came roaring in and bowled fast and aggressively at a batsman two-and-a-half years his junior. He ruffled him up with short-pitched bowling, struck him on the gloves and this time Brevis could only score five runs from the 10 balls he faced from the St Andrew’s Bloemfontein product on the same pitch.

Brevis surely has the talent to sort all this out, of course, but the cautionary lesson is that he is still just a 19-year-old with just one season of experience playing with men. He spoke with maturity about the journey he has to travel after his 162, and the precocious potential he undoubtedly possesses needs to be carefully managed by the national selectors.

Read more: Dewald Brevis — A prim & proper young man with a talent for batting destruction

The selectors have certainly taken a lot of flak for persisting with Bavuma at the top of the Proteas batting order, but there were many glimpses of the reasons why against Pakistan: the crisp strokeplay, the ability to hit boundaries in the powerplay with ‘proper’ cricket shots and his brilliant handling of the short ball.

The jury is still out, of course, on Bavuma’s long-term future as an international T20 batsman, but the graph has now taken a little up-turn back in the right direction.

Read more: Bavuma calls Proteas defeat to Pakistan at T20 World Cup a ‘wake up call’

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