It has been a long and sometimes bumpy road for Temba Bavuma, but the Proteas vice-captain will play his 49th Test in the second game against New Zealand and says he now feels fully valued and accepted as the leader of the team .
Bavuma made his test debut in 2014, in the Boxing Day game against the West Indies at St George’s Park, which was ruined by the rain. Six games later, his first Test century, against England at Newlands, was historic and one of the most memorable moments in South African cricket since returning from isolation.
But as for most of his teammates, 2019 was an annus horribilis for Bavuma as he averaged just 19.84 in 13 innings. He was dropped and has come back stronger, averaging 46.16 since then.
“I have more peace of mind about how I fit into my role in the team now,” said Bavuma.
“Every game now doesn’t feel like my last chance. My role is not just about the runs, but about my presence, how I contribute to building the culture and environment.
“It has helped me to be more at ease. It also helped that I’ve played quite a few games now and learned to accept that there will be good days and bad days.
“When it’s a bad day, you have to have perspective. They do not define who we are, although we draw lessons from them.”
Bavuma, 31, is a sucker for fair leadership, a sort of skipper himself on the Proteas whiteball teams or the Central Gauteng Lions. That is why he is so well affiliated with Test Captain Dean Elgar.
“Dean and I have been playing side by side for a while, since we played for SA A in 2012/13,” said Bavuma.
“The relationship is always based on honesty. There’s no bullshit with Dean.
“He can be very blunt. He’ll call you if you need it, but if you’ve done it right, he’ll let you know that too. His character resonates with me and he wants the same kind of feedback from me.
“As his vice-captain I try to be a calming voice because he can be quite emotional, but I understand his vision and I support him 100%, and I also support him as a leader and player.
“His success is my success and vice versa, and we both want to bring back the respect for the Proteas badge and leave the team in a much better condition.”