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Ken Borland

SA20 franchises make a hash of auction, got Bavuma all wrong

Posted on November 08, 2022 by Ken

The SA20 Auction was always going to be one of the key events in the build-up to the launch of the new T20 league early next year, crucial in getting the public behind Cricket South Africa’s proposed financial saviour.

Unfortunately the six franchises made a complete hash of it by snubbing one of this country’s most popular players. I’m not sure whether Temba Bavuma’s status as captain of the national T20 team or the fact he is a role-model and hero to so many is most important, but either way, he should be playing in the SA20.

His highly-controversial snubbing – there is no other word for it when you fail to get a bid despite going on auction three times – has led to ferocious debate. Some of it has been so lacking in clarity of thought or decent humanity that it reminds me a bit of how Hashim Amla was treated in the early stages of his international career. Despite scoring prolifically for KwaZulu-Natal, Amla had many critics who said he would never make it at international level.

Amla showed ‘em alright how wrong that characterisation of his abilities was.

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying Bavuma should automatically have been bought simply because he is a Proteas captain, or his popularity, or the colour of his skin. I’m saying choose him because there are compelling cricketing reasons to do so.

That the 32-year-old is not the most explosive T20 batsman is a given, but he can perform a very important role in the top-three, especially when conditions give the bowlers a bit of assistance. I watched him score an outstanding century at the Wanderers to win the Highveld Lions the T20 title against the Warriors in 2019.

My point is three of the franchises clearly chose players instead of Bavuma who do not have better records than him.

My alarm bells were ringing when Sunrisers Eastern Cape bought Marques Ackerman in the 12th round of bidding, admittedly for just R175 000, compared to Bavuma’s base price of R850 000, which was clearly set too high, either by himself or whoever advised him poorly.

Because we’re going to be comparing records of these top-three batsmen, Bavuma’s T20 stats are the baseline. In 25 internationals, he has a strike-rate of 120.60 and an average of 26.76. But there were some purely domestic players who were chosen ahead of him, so Bavuma’s local stats are 100 matches, a strike-rate of 124.67 and an average of 30.52.

Ackerman has played just 39 domestic T20s and strikes at 123.68, with an average of 24.25.

There was an even bigger warning that Bavuma was in for humiliation when Durban Super Giants bought West Indian Johnson Charles in the next round. A bang-average T20 player based on his stats: In 34 internationals, he has a strike-rate of only 121.68 and an average of only 21.93. His domestic figures are 128.63 and 25.76. And before you bring up his wicketkeeping, Durban already had Quinton de Kock and Heinrich Klaasen in their squad.

In the next round, Super Kings bought Matthew Breetzke, a sound investment in up-and-coming talent, but he has a domestic strike-rate of 129.43 and an average of 24.78. Like many of the local cricketers, half of those matches have been in the semi-pro ranks, so you really cannot compare him with Bavuma.

When Sunrisers Eastern Cape then bought Test opener Sarel Erwee in Round 15, it really seemed like the auction was merely a device for our IPL overlords to ram home some sort of anti-transformation agenda.

Erwee strikes at 123.64 and has an average of 24.70.

One wonders how much local input the franchises used.

And considering the awful racist targeting of Bavuma and Andile Phehlukwayo, whose omission from the SA20 is also a shock, by some Indian social media, and the right-wing, anti-liberal current Indian government, one wonders whether there is not more to these auction outcomes than meets the eye.

We sincerely hope not.

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