Bavuma may play ... but who drops out?

2015-12-01 14:01
Temba Bavuma (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The fourth Test against India in Delhi, starting on Thursday, is a tough one for the Proteas to tackle whichever way you look at it. 

They have been battered and bruised, and there is nothing left to play for with India having clinched the series 2-0.

It may be over as a contest, but what Delhi will do is offer the Proteas an opportunity to try a few new combinations, which may not be such a bad idea given the way things have progressed.

Temba Bavuma has been benched throughout the tour with his most telling contribution being some nifty work at short leg in the first Test when he came on for the injured Dale Steyn. 

The Lions middle-order grinder is a good player of spin and would benefit from another taste of Test cricket. He has batted just three times for his country - the last of those knocks an encouraging 54 against Bangladesh in Chittagong in July. 

He is just 25, has a healthy first-class average of just under 40 and his conversion rate is good - having gone on to score a century 11 times on the 30 occasions he has passed 50. 

Most importantly, Bavuma might offer an innovative alternative to the Ravichandran Ashwin/Ravindra Jadeja double threat in a Proteas team that clearly hasn't had the answer. 

And then, there are the external pressures. 

As the increasingly vocal and influential 'Black Cricketers in Unity' movement watches on closely, Cricket South Africa (CSA) could do with avoiding another tour in which a black player is sidelined throughout. 

There will surely be an angry reaction if Bavuma is left out in Delhi, but that should in no way be thought of as the grounds for his selection. 

Bavuma's opportunity, if it comes, will simply be a case of the next player in line being given a go. 

Stiaan van Zyl continues to stumble at the top of the order, and having been dismissed by Ashwin five straight times, could probably do with a break. 

But therein lies the conundrum. 

If Van Zyl does make way for Bavuma, then who moves to the top of the order alongside Dean Elgar?

Throwing Bavuma straight into the deep end is one option, and a sure way of toughening him up in the most difficult conditions, but it is hard to see the brains trust going that route. 

Will a more seasoned campaigner - Hashim Amla or AB de Villiers - take one for the team? 

The other option is to retain Van Zyl, drop Dane Vilas and give AB the gloves. That would allow Bavuma to slot into the middle order while nobody - presuming for a moment that Van Zyl is comfortable - has to feel out of place opening the innings. 

The fact of the matter is that none of the Proteas batsmen have fired in this series.

And, with nothing left to play for, giving a young man with a bright future an opportunity to shine seems a no-brainer. 

It's in figuring out how best to do that where it all gets a little tricky.

Follow Lloyd Burnard on Twitter ...

Read more on:    proteas  |  temba bavuma  |  cricket

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