Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
14 Mar 2017
9:57 am

The curious Proteas case of Temba Bavuma

Heinz Schenk

The diminutive batter seems to love the most difficult of situations in Test cricket, but when will the runs come when the going is easy?

Temba Bavuma: brilliant when his side finds itself in a crisis. Photo: Marty Melville/AFP.

There’s a reason why Temba Bavuma’s half-century in last week’s first Test against New Zealand in Dunedin was more of a triumph than people were willing to let on.

He went into that match on the back of having scored 21 runs in his last five Test innings.

Not part of the one-day squad against Sri Lanka, Bavuma went back to his franchise, the Highveld Lions.

Also read: Stephen Cook’s drought will end soon, says Dean Elgar

The 26-year-old played steadily without providing much fireworks and went to New Zealand with doubters still unconvinced about his form.

But here’s the thing about this diminutive fighter: four of his five Test fifties have been scored when the pressure is really on.

In fact, Bavuma’s pattern of scoring suggests he loves it.

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A man for a crisis:

74 vs Australia 2016 – Came in at 76/4

64 vs New Zealand 2017 – Came in at 148/4

54 vs Bangladesh 2015 – South Africa only make 248

51 vs Australia 2016 – Came in at 32/4

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And he proved it in Dunedin with a gritty 64.

“I do feel that I was able to get some kind of batting rhythm,” said Bavuma on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s second Test in Wellington.

“Mentally, it was just being up for the fight, understanding that there will be pressure situations and just trying to find a way to get through those.”

However, his six in the second innings also continued his tendency not to build on good previous knocks.

That’s the challenge for Bavuma now.

“Obviously one is never happy, never satisfied with getting a fifty or a sixty, we know that for the team, especially batting in the middle order, we’ve got to get those big runs to put the team in a strong position,” he said.

“I will just try and build on that and not sleep on what happened in Dunedin.”

It’s an important consideration for Bavuma, especially since there’s the possibility of AB de Villiers wanted to play Test cricket again somewhere in the future.

“Stats are a big part of cricket, especially as a batter,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you are judged on your stats. My mentality is always to try and contribute to the team but there is that fine balance of making sure your numbers are also in order.

“That’s probably the most disappointing thing thus far with my international career. I have contributed to the side but probably my numbers don’t justify all of that.”

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