ICC World Cup: Can Temba Bavuma draw on South Africa’s rugby glory?

The black opener-captain needs to fire with the bat against India in the big game

Temba Bavuma (left) with Lungi Ngidi
Temba Bavuma (left) with Lungi Ngidi

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Can Temba Bevuma, the South African captain who prefers to lie under the radar, do a Siya Kolisi on November 19? There is, of course, a lightyears’ difference between the two in terms of achievement – but the current Proteas lot is making the cricket fans of the rainbow nation dream again. 

When Kolisi held aloft the Rugby World Cup trophy for the second time in a row a week back, the Springboks became the first nation to win the title a record four times. Four years back, Kolisi had already become the first black captain to achieve the  honours for his country while the odds are stacked against Bavuma to end their jinx in the 50-overs showpiece. 

‘’We have come this far on the back of some good performances and will obviously draw on the rugby team’s performance,’’ said Bavuma, who was the first black captain to be appointed fulltime in all three formats in 2021. It must have been a trying period for him to rally around a dressing room which has a chequered history of racial tensions, but the pocket-sized Bavuma has managed the contradictions quite well so far. 

For now, the Proteas will be hoping to be the first team to upset the applecart of India in what is being billed as the clash between the two potential finalists at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. ‘’There is a lot of excitement within our group about this game. There is a lot of history about this ground and we look forward to test our skills against India, the lone unbeaten team so far,’’ the pocket sized skipper said at the pre-match media conference. 

His ‘toughest’ moment came, by his own admission, when Quinton de Kock – the anchor of South African batting in this tournament with four centuries already – refused to take the knees in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement ahead of their opening match against West Indies in the T20 World Cup in 2021 in Dubai.

De Kock, a former captain, later said he had done so due to interference from Cricket South Africa and had pulled out from that game. 

The ongoing World Cup, which has seen the Proteas outbatting their opponents (with eight centuries from their top order so far) on most occasions, Bavuma has been struggling with his own form. His aggregate as an opener has been a meagre 110 from five innings so far with an average of 22.20, during which he managed some kind of a start on two occasions before getting dismissed. 

The question of personal form dogged him during the media interaction as well, with someone reminding him that De Kock told the South African media a day before that a big one from Bavuma can be round the corner.

‘’I take comfort from the fact that I have been helping them in getting starts and partnerships. I will keep sticking to my processes and believe that I will have a part to play in the campaign,’’ he said. 

No prizes for guessing, the Indian pace attack – which has their tails up now after some devastating performances – will target the rival captain as the weak link in the first powerplay. It will need some show of character from Bavuma with the bat as well to make a match of it! 

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines