Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Bavuma to return from injury in South Africa's T20 WC opener. Bavuma broke his thumb while batting against Sri Lanka on September 2.
Bavuma broke his thumb while batting against Sri Lanka on September 2.
Fancy Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood steaming towards you – or Adam Zampa twirling in trying to trip you up – when you haven't faced a ball in anger for 50 days? Welcome to Temba Bavuma's world.
South Africa's captain hasn't played since breaking his thumb while batting against Sri Lanka in Colombo on September 2. He told an online press conference from Abu Dhabi on Thursday that Friday would be “my first time having a live net facing bowlers”, and said he would miss his team's T20 WC warm-up games against Afghanistan on Monday and Pakistan on Wednesday.
Will Bavuma be good to go in his team's tournament opener against Australia in Abu Dhabi on October 23? “Everything is on track,” he said, and explained: “I had a good batting session today. My hand is definitely improving by the day. It's getting stronger and I'm getting a lot more comfortable with it.” He looked forward to his hit on Friday: “It will give me a better indication of how far I've progressed. What I'm trying to get out of it is comfort; to see what I can do and make peace with what I can't do.”
Bavuma opened the batting and scored a career-best 72 in his most recent T20I innings, against Ireland in Belfast in July. His partner, Reeza Hendricks, who was standing in for the rested Quinton de Kock, made 69. That was the first of two half-centuries Hendricks has scored in four innings in the format – as Bavuma's replacement he made 38, 18 and 56 not out against the Lankans in Colombo. So the South Africans face tricky selection questions.
Bavuma is among seven players in his squad of 15 who have never been to a World Cup. How did being at the tournament feel so far? “We had the opportunity to come in early and get through our quarantine, and we've had a couple of practice days. As soon as the warm-up games start, the intensity and the emotions around an event like this will start increasing. But at the moment we are relaxed.”
Famously fragile as favourites in senior tournaments – of the 22 they have been to, the 1998 International Trophy has been their only success – but unfancied this time, South Africa have fewer expectations to live up to than in the past. That and the bevvy of players who haven't frozen on the world stage give Bavuma hope.
He said his squad have “had those conversations” about “previous South African teams, and the label that's been put on them at these sort of events”.
“We've accepted that those types of pressure will always be there until we bring back some sort of silverware, and we accept that,” Bavuma said. But he added a rider: “It's not something that we have to carry on our shoulders, especially this bunch of players.”
Even so, there's only one way to change this narrative. That's by being called onto the podium after the final, and not as runners-up.