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Ken Borland

Oh boy, what a Bavuma pickle!

Posted on December 05, 2022 by Ken

Oh boy, have the Proteas selectors got themselves into a pickle just weeks before the T20 World Cup in Australia!

But their troubles, to be fair, should be traced back to March 2021 when Graeme Smith, then director of cricket, appointed Temba Bavuma as South Africa’s limited-overs captain, replacing Quinton de Kock.

The appointment made sense at a lot of levels, but there was one concern even back then: Would Bavuma be worth his place as a batsman in the T20 side?

Since becoming captain, Bavuma has had some rotten luck with injuries and has played just 19 of South Africa’s 32 T20 Internationals. And his performances with the bat have been underwhelming – just 313 runs, including only one half-century, and an average of 19.56 and a strike-rate of 107.93.

And now, in India, it has looked like men versus boys as, in the two T20 series the Proteas have played there this year, in June and now, he has scored just 61 runs off 70 balls in six innings.

While such a lean run of form could be overlooked if the captain had previous pedigree in the format at international level, or there was a lack of a viable alternative, everything points to the obvious call being to replace Bavuma with Reeza Hendricks, who has been in red-hot form. But who is going to be brave enough to make that call, given Bavuma’s standing as a role-model of Black African excellence?

Hendricks has taken great delight in proving all his critics wrong of late, scoring 736 runs in 22 innings since the start of 2021, at an average of 35.04 and a strike-rate of 131.89. The elegant right-hander has scored four half-centuries and a 42 in his last five innings.

Surely that is the sort of form that cannot be ignored when the shaky Proteas top-order is constantly teetering on the verge of collapse?

Coach Mark Boucher has put himself firmly in Bavuma’s corner, but given that he will be leaving his job straight after the T20 World Cup, perhaps he is the man to make the tough call because the consequences and fallout won’t mean much to him sitting in Mumbai preparing for his new IPL job.

One worries that all this negative attention could also affect Bavuma’s batting in ODIs and Tests, where he is very much one of the kingpins of the side.

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