Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, Proteas top-order batsman TEMBA BAVUMA talks about the rapid rise of Kagiso Rabada, the supply and demand of black talent and giving back to the game.
Sport24 asked: On your path to success what stands out as your single greatest sacrifice?
Temba Bavuma: The road to get to where I am today hasn’t been an easy one. There have been a number of obstacles along the way and I have had to make many sacrifices. One stands out. I completed Grade 12 and passed with four distinctions. I was a year younger than my peers, which meant that I could still qualify for the Gauteng and SA under-19 sides. Consequently, I sacrificed going to Varsity and stayed to do another year of Matric at St David’s High School. I had to deal with all the negative perceptions from the younger learners who thought I had failed. The teachers were against the idea of me coming back to study in order to pursue my sporting passion. It also went against my parents’ wishes at the time, but fortunately everything worked out well in the end and I can look back with a smile.
Sport24 asked: How would you rate your strengths and weaknesses as a Test cricketer?
Temba Bavuma: Since making my debut for South Africa, I believe I have a much better understanding of what my game is about and which are my strengths and weaknesses. In terms of my playing strengths, I’m strong off the back foot and try to use my (lack of) height to my advantage. Bowlers will generally struggle to bowl the ball a bit fuller to me and often over-pitch, which thus affords me the opportunity to drive. I have also worked tirelessly in the nets on my cutting and pulling in order to give me an edge. I bring energy to the sides I play for and am a positive person. I try to add value in every department. While I don’t want to give too many of my trade secrets away, in terms of batting my weak area is on the front foot because I’m smaller in stature than most and can’t get many big strides into the ball. I have had to work hard on my batting over the years, and while I’ve reached the Test arena, it remains a work in progress. You can never stop learning and improving upon your craft.
Sport24 asked: 22 years into democracy how would assess the strides made by SA sport?
Temba Bavuma: It’s challenging to change the landscape of South African sport and provide opportunities for those who were previously disadvantaged because the reality is that there are socio-economic challenges still at play. For example, most parents in Langa simply don’t have the finances to send their children to top cricket schools and, as such, they are not being afforded access to those benefits. It’s a tough task, but I believe Cricket South Africa is doing its utmost in order to try and curb the imbalance. To personally give back to the game, for the past few years I’ve been hosting a cricket festival. The Langa All Day Cricket Festival hosted every December gives children who live in the township a sporting chance and also has the effect of bringing the community closer together. We hold coaching clinics in the morning and play celebrity matches in the afternoon. Returning to my roots is humbling in a way - whenever I return to Cape Town, I stay in my grandmother’s old RDP house. For breakfast, you don’t have bacon and Kelloggs, but rather porridge and pap. Going back to where I grew up (Langa) keeps me grounded and helps me appreciate all that I have today.
Sport24 asked: Kagiso Rabada has taken the SA cricket scene by storm. Your take on him?
Temba Bavuma: Kagiso is an amazing talent and he has a good head on his shoulders. When he first came into the Lions structures, he was still attending school at the time and we were all amazed by the kind of control he had with his pace. The senior members of our squad knew that this kid was destined for great things. I’m not surprised he has managed to achieve what he has already because he’s a massive talent and bright prospect for SA. In terms of the whole transformation topic in South Africa, black African players are in greater demand. It causes an increase in what players would normally get paid. Everything is governed by the market and it comes down to supply and demand. If a certain group is paid more owing to demand then so be it. Black cricketers such as Kagiso are fulling deserving of being awarded big contracts because they are proving their worth and working really hard.
Sport24 asked: Outside of the world of cricket what achievements do you take pride in?
Temba Bavuma: I’m degreed in finance and graduated last year. To further myself even more away from cricket, I’ll enrol at Unisa to complete a law degree. From a business point of view, I have been interested in real estate for a while now and have a couple of properties that I manage. I would really like to grow in the property management and development field. It’s important to have a contingency plan in place when your sporting career comes to an end and I feel that I’ll be equipped to make a success of life after cricket.
Jean de Villiers
Ali BacherFelipe Contepomi