Time for in-form Bavuma to move up Proteas order?

2019-01-07 09:06
Temba Bavuma (Gallo)
Temba Bavuma (Gallo)

Cape Town - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis believes that Temba Bavuma is one of South Africa's best batters, particularly when there is movement in the air and off the surface. 

Batting in South Africa over the last 12 months has not been an easy task with seam-friendly wickets contributing to low scores and Test matches that are over well before the fifth and final day. 

That has been the case once again in the ongoing series against Pakistan, which South Africa secured by taking a 2-0 lead on Sunday morning when they emerged as 9-wicket winners in the second Test at Newlands. 

Bavuma, as was the case in even more difficult conditions during the Boxing Day Test at Centurion, was in the runs. 

His knock of 53 in that first Test bailed the Proteas out of serious trouble - they were 43/4 when he came out to bat - and it was a contribution that has now become synonymous with Bavuma's Proteas career. 

Then, in Cape Town, the 28-year-old was back at it with an innings of 75 in a 153-run partnership with Du Plessis that batted Pakistan out of the Test and the series. 

Bavuma's game plan is a simple one. 

He stands still at the wicket and is mechanical with his trigger movements while his judgment on when to defend, leave or score has been one of the most noticeable improvements to his game. 

The last two Test matches have seen Bavuma solidify his place as a senior member in a Proteas top order that has been crying out for leadership. 

Du Plessis' return to form in Cape Town was desperately needed, but there are still question marks over Hashim Amla despite his 63* at Centurion. 

Perhaps the biggest concern at the moment from a South African perspective, though, is Theunis de Bruyn. 

His brilliant 101 in Colombo back in July looked to be the kick-start he needed in his international career, but he has failed to make an impression against Pakistan with scores of 291013 and summing up what has been a poor series for him so far. 

Even more disappointing than those scores is the way that De Bruyn has gotten himself out, with two loose shots in Cape Town bringing about his downfall. 

Proteas coach Ottis Gibson rates De Bruyn extremely highly, but there is no doubt that he will be the one to fall out of the side should the Proteas opt to go into Wanderers with an extra bowler. 

Bavuma, meanwhile, is not going anywhere and he has spoken openly about his desire to bat at No 4 in the Test side. 

Backing Bavuma in that all-important position and moving De Bruyn down the order would not only ease some pressure on the latter, but it would also ensure that the Proteas do not have to shuffle their top five every time they want to alter the balance of their side by playing five bowlers. 

"Technically, Temba is one of our best players when the ball moves around because he plays very late and leaves well," Du Plessis told media after the second Test on Sunday.

"I back him and if there is an opportunity for him to go up the order and bat at No 4, I know he would want to do it and he likes the added responsibility."

Bavuma's only Test hundred came almost exactly three years ago against England in Cape Town, and his inability to convert good starts into big scores when given the opportunity is one reason Du Plessis might feel more comfortable with him at No 6. 

"Temba will be the first to tell you that he has got himself into a few opportunities where he could have got a hundred," the skipper said.

"He is a very motivated cricket player. At the moment he is a good player, but he wants to become a better player.

"In order to do that when you get an opportunity to score a hundred you need to take it. That's the difference between averaging in the 30s and in the 40s.

"Temba is definitely working on that but if you look back at the value on the runs he has scored for us a team over the last three years, there are a lot of very important runs that Temba has scored for us when we were in deep trouble that won us the game."

Bavuma now averages 35.41 from his 33 Test matches.

Follow @LloydBurnard on Twitter ...

Read more on:    proteas  |  temba bavuma  |  cape town  |  cricket


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