A national team leader is supposed to inspire others with his exploits, but Temba Bavuma seems to be an exception to that norm. Bavuma was always erratic going out early in the innings while other quality hitters waited for their opportunity backstage.
T20 is a game of match-winners and the more match-winners you have on your side, the more chances you have of success. However, South Africa have played their game against the norm as their side have an unproven leader and fly-half as a T20I hitter so far, and their numbers also paint a grim picture of his T20I mandate. Bavuma scored 565 runs in 27 T20I innings at 23.54 and a low 116.49 batting rate for a top-notch hitter. The fact that he’s only logged a lonely half-century so far only makes matters worse.
The South African skipper failed to live up to the hype created at the time of his arrival in international cricket. He was neither able to anchor innings nor show an aggressor streak, failing to meet the demands of the fast-paced format. There are more capable hitters warming up the Proteas bench and yet they must endure the excruciating pain of watching the game from the sidelines even as their skipper counts a streak of misses. Bavuma’s contributions to his team’s wins don’t particularly paint a rosy picture either, with just 329 runs in 14 innings at a slightly better 117.92 strike rate. In his last 10 T20I shots, Bavuma only managed one score over 50, also against Ireland. He returned to the Rainbow Nation squad in the recent series against India after injuring his elbow but failed to capitalize on any of the chances, managing just three points in three games.
The factor that makes Bavuma a default choice in the scheme of things is his leadership role. The team might not reject him based on his lack of competitiveness in the format due to him being their captain. They must also look for other options to lead the sheep and take charge of the team to fight their way to glory. As captain, Bavuma scored 316 points at 18.58 and a strike rate of 106.04, without the kind of performance a leader needs to display. In the last edition of the T20 World Cup, he also put up just 91 runs over four innings with a 108.33 strike rate, which was not the performance of a leader from any angle. . Moreover, Bavuma did not lead the team to the title in any major tournament ICC trophies. All of this indicates that Bavuma’s captaincy hasn’t been so great that the team’s management should overlook his shortcomings with the bat.
Former South African cricketer Alviro Petersen had addressed the same issues, taking to social media after his dismal comebacks in the India Series.
1) Should the Proteas select their best XI and then name one of them captain?
2) Do the selectors (coach included) have to show leadership and make a decision?
3) Should Bavuma show leadership and insist on letting go?
4) None of the above answers?
— Alviro Petersen (@AlviroPetersen) October 4, 2022
David Miller appears to be the suitable candidate to replace Bavuma as captain, as he has a wealth of experience handling that responsibility. Miller led South Africa to four wins in six T20Is as captain while the batting veteran also has 16 wins in 25 T20s as skipper. The Gujarat Giants swordsman recently donned his captain’s hat in style, beating England 2-1 in their own backyard. Quinton de Kock is another team player who can lead the pack.
South Africa’s quota for colored players also comes into play to cement Temba Bavuma’s place in the squad. They are expected to field six non-white players in a game on average throughout the year. Two of them have to be native blacks and this factor also makes Bavuma a strong candidate to be chosen in the playing XI. Preferring talents over quotas could make the future path quite smooth for South Africa and they could take advantage of this approach.
The recent South African New League T20 SA20 auction was proof that Bavuma’s batting model did not fit the requirements of the format. The national team skipper himself wasn’t sold as no one was willing to get the batter as he led a side made up of some of the world’s most talented white-ball cricketers at the ‘actual hour. Not to mention that South Africa is the country Bavuma leads, and there is no candidate for him in their own elite T20 competition.
Bavuma had also expressed his feelings of disappointment after being overlooked at the auction.
“I certainly expected to play a role in the tournament. From my side, there are definitely feelings of disappointment and also feelings of being almost disappointed in some way,” he said after being snubbed. .
Aaron Finch is another skipper who has been out of form lately, but his past records and status as a T20I giant cannot be ignored. Finch managed just 98 runs in five games at 19.60 with a 105.37 strike rate in the 2022-23 season, compared to Bavuma’s three runs in three T20Is against India. Plus, Finch being disconnected doesn’t hurt Australia as much thanks to the blast he provides at the top. Bavuma, on the other hand, limits the flow of runs with his slow strokes and appears to be the only skipper from a major cricketing nation to have backed the team for a long time regardless of his returns.
In a video on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra said Bavuma was the weak link in South Africa’s squad.
“Temba Bavuma is South Africa’s weakness as a captain and batsman. I would like to apologize to him because I shouldn’t say that about an international player, it’s not fair. But unfortunately I must say that it does not reach the South Africa team. Although he will definitely be there every time in game 11 as he is the captain of the team. Even if one of Riley Rossouw, Reeza Hendricks or Tristan Stubbs has to be absent,” he explained.
So. South Africa should look at their depth on the bench to replace Bavuma. They have Reeza Hendricks waiting backstage. He was impressive in the T20I with 1,372 points in 48 games at 29.82 and a strike rate of 125.41. Moreover, he will form a left-right combination with De Kock and the duo can pose a threat for bowling attacks. Even Janneman Malan has a more aggressive style than Bavuma and is already forming a formidable opening pair with De Kock in the ODI setup. Thus, Reeza Hendricks and Janneman Malan are the two options that South Africa can consider to replace its skipper.
The team has worn the collar tag over the years in ICC tournaments after getting bogged down in tight situations more often than not. Sometimes luck spoiled their chances of victory while on other occasions they failed to put on a collective performance to overtake their opponents. With Bavuma’s lack of attacking intent at the top, the team could once again find themselves miles away from the upcoming T20 World Cup, as the format requires hitters who keep the scoreboard going. Excluding him from the playing XI seems to be the best solution at the moment for South Africa to achieve glory in the shortest format.
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