Bavuma emerges as likely Proteas No 4

2018-07-02 14:09
Temba Bavuma (Gallo)

Cape Town - Having played just two matches in South Africa's bumper Test summer against India and Australia, Temba Bavuma is frothing at another opportunity of a long run in Proteas colours. 

Having been a regular in the South African middle order throughout 2016 and 2017, Bavuma lost his place at the start of 2018 to accommodate the return of AB de Villiers. 

It was a decision that was harsh on the then-27-year-old given the dogged, sometimes match-saving innings he had delivered over the previous two years. But, it was also a decision that had to be made with the top order of Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock undroppable. 

Bavuma was the man sacrificed, and he spent the next six Tests carrying the drinks before finally getting another crack in the third and later infamous Test against Australia at Newlands. 

Seriously undercooked, Bavuma carded scores of 1 and 5 in that match before coming good in the final Test of the series in Johannesburg. 

On a familiar Wanderers stomping ground, Bavuma was left stranded on 95* in the first innings, just 5 short of what would have been his second Test ton. 

The milestone was not to be, but that innings was a timely reminder of Bavuma's capabilities at Test level. 

Now, with De Villiers no longer a factor after his shocking retirement in May, Bavuma has a path to a more permanent place in the Test side.

While he has primarily batted at No 6 in his Test career to date, Bavuma could find himself elevated to No 4 for the two Tests in Sri Lanka. 

Du Plessis has said for some time that he sees Bavuma as a strong Test No 4, and while he did bat there in the 2017 series against England, he now has a chance to make that position his own. 

The thinking behind the move in Sri Lanka, Du Plessis confirmed on Sunday, is that the batsmen in the middle order need to be good players of spin. 

With his soft hands, nimble feet, impressive appreciation of length and an ability to sweep well on all surfaces, Bavuma is one of the better players of spin in the current Proteas set-up.

"Myself and the coach have spoken about it. No 4 would probably still be a good position for him," Du Plessis offered when asked where he saw Bavuma fitting in.

"When you go to the sub-continent your hardest place to bat will be in the middle because you come in facing the spinning ball and the reverse-swinging ball.

"The discussions will be to get out best players of spin in the middle periods to try and counter that."

Bavuma has batted just three times on the sub-continent, scoring 110 runs at an average of 36.66.

He was asked to open the innings in the fourth and final Test of South Africa's 2015 tour to India where they lost the series 3-0 on dustbowl wickets and he scored 22 and 34 as the Proteas fell to a 337-run defeat. 

The first of two Tests between South Africa and Sri Lanka starts on July 12. 

Read more on:    proteas  |  temba bavuma  |  cricket


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