Bavuma in with a solid shot

Saturday Star - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

A BRIEF look at the con­gested na­ture of South Africa’s One-Day In­ter­na­tional and T20 pro­gramme in Fe­bru­ary 2018 – nine matches – will tell you that Temba Bavuma could have a se­ri­ous shot at playing more white-ball cricket for the Proteas soon.

Bavuma might be able to use the up­com­ing RamSlam T20 Chal­lenge as a launch­ing pad to un­der­line his silky skills with the blade and get more ODI and T20 recog­ni­tion.

The 27-year-old top-or­der bats­man of the Cape Co­bras ac­knowl­edges there might be an in­cen­tive, but he is quick to add that he has not thought that far ahead.

“Where Test cricket is all about the pres­sures that goes with that for­mat, T20 cricket is about go­ing out, ex­press­ing your­self and hav­ing fun,” he said.

“Our bat­ting is prob­a­bly where our strength lies, and we can lean on so much fire-power which will al­low the bowlers to de­fend big to­tals,” he re­marked.

“Bat­ting sets you up in T20 cricket, but it is the bowlers who win com­pe­ti­tions,” he added.

Bavuma will be one of at least four fully-fledged in­ter­na­tional play­ers in the Co­bras’ top and mid­dle-or­der in the open­ing T20 Chal­lenge match against the Dol­phins at Su­perS­port Park to­mor­row.

The en­er­getic mid­dle-or­der bats­man is one of South Africa’s most un­der-rated crick­eters in the ODI for­mat. In two games for the Proteas, he smashed 113 and 48. In his most re­cent per­for­mance, against Bangladesh, Bavuma and Quin­ton de Kock added 119 for the first wicket.

The 27-year-old has all the char­ac­ter­is­tics to be an en­trenched player for South Africa in all three for­mats.

His Cape Co­bras col­league Hashim Amla is a case in point of a crick­eter who im­proved his T20 skills to such a de­gree that he has be­come a world-class prac­ti­tioner of the short­est for­mat.

He av­er­ages 34.51 in T20s, which com­pares favourably with his 49.87 in Tests and 51.25 in ODIs.

Bavuma is a clas­si­cal bats­man in Test cricket who strikes the ball late. He uses his feet splen­didly, can dis­patch spin­ners eas­ily by ad­vanc­ing down the wicket and is not off-side or on-side re­stricted.

“My ap­proach in T20 cricket would be to hit bound­aries by find­ing the gap. What­ever is de­manded, what­ever my body tells me to do, I will do.”

The diminu­tive star is one of the world’s premier ath­letes and can lift the Cape Co­bras in the field.

His dis­missal of David Warner in the first Test of the Aus­tralian 2016/2017 se­ries at the Waca went vi­ral and was widely hailed as one of the finest di­rect hits of the past two decades. “I don’t do more field­ing prac­tice than the av­er­age guy. Grow­ing up, I bowled, but now I don’t so I have learned field­ing as my sec­ond skill.

“Ev­ery­body can catch or stop a ball. But it is just about hav­ing en­joy­ment and a love to con­trib­ute to the cause,” he said.

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