A brief look at the congested nature of South Africa’s ODI and T20 program in February 2018 – nine matches – will tell you that Temba Bavuma might have a serious shot at playing more white-ball cricket for the Proteas soon.
Bavuma might be able to use the T20 Challenge as a launching pad to underline his silky skills with the blade and get more limited-overs and T20 recognition at the highest level.
The 27-year-old top-order Cape Cobras batsman acknowledges there might be an incentive, but he is quick to add that he has not thought that far ahead.
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 in Centurion on Sunday.
Bavuma said: “Where Test cricket is all about the pressures that goes with that format, T20 cricket is about going out, expressing yourself and having fun.
“Our batting (at the Cape Cobras) is probably where our strength lies, and we can lean on so much fire-power which will allow the bowlers to defend big totals.
“We also have so much experience with the ball. Batting sets you up in T20 cricket, but it is the bowlers who win competitions. I am confident of our chances in the competition.”
The energetic middle-order batsman is one of South Africa’s most under-estimated cricketers in the ODI format. In two games for the Proteas, he scored 113 and 48.
In his most recent performance, against Bangladesh, Bavuma and Quinton de Kock added 119 for the first wicket.
Bavuma has all the characteristics to become a fully entrenched player for South Africa in all three formats.
His Cobras and Proteas 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.
Amla averages 34.51 in T20s, which compares favourably with his 49.87 in Tests and 51.25 in ODIs. In short, Amla is the ultimate evolved player.
Bavuma is a classical batsman in the longest format 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 question is – what is demanded,” Bavuma said.
The diminutive star is one of the world’s premier athletes and can lift the Cobras in the field.
His dismissal of Australia’s David Warner in the 2016/2017 Test series Down Under went viral and was widely hailed as one of the finest direct hits of the past two decades.
Bavuma said about his fielding: “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.
“Fielding is a big attitude thing. Everybody can catch or stop a ball. But it is just about having enjoyment and a love to contribute to the cause.”