Temba, who is currently serving as the limited-overs captain for the Proteas and last 8-10 months have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride for him in his international career.
He was made captaincy in March 2021 from Quinton de Kock, who wasn’t enjoying his job as a leader of the team during the transition phase of South Africa. Due to the sudden changes in the leadership in the past one year or so, the Proteas weren’t even considered as favorites to win the T20 World Cup 2021.
Temba Bavuma’s appointment as the white-ball skipper becomes a part of South Africa’s history as he is the first-ever black captain of a South Africa cricket team. However, he has been appointed as the captain citing his experience and camaraderie with the players in the team.
Elaborating on his bond with the players, Temba Bavuma said, “I spend a lot of time with KG [Rabada] on and off the field. Shamo [Tabraiz Shamsi] and Quinton [de Kock], too. We’re fortunate that we have several legends of the past who I can call upon, too. JP Duminy was in the T20 management camp and he added to the brains of the team. He has a great brain and I bounced ideas off him.”
Apart from bonding with the players, it has been important for Temba Bavuma to have authority over the team as well. However, he takes pride in being honest and that helps to ignore what other people on him or his leadership skills.
In the last six months or so, there has been significant improvement in Bavuma’s captaincy skills as he led the team to win the T20I series by a 3-2 margin in the Caribbean and followed it up with three-match series whitewashed against Ireland and Sri Lanka. Those series win boosted the morale of the team ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Although the South African team failed to reach the semis, they managed to win four games out of five in the Super 12 stage at that tournament. Even in terms of his batting Temba Bavuma has shown improvement as after various single-digit scores in five innings against West Indies and Ireland, he amassed 91 runs at an average of over 30 during the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Talking about the balance between his captaincy and batting, Temba Bavuma said, “It can be a challenge to combine the two, but you have to make sure that you’re mentally fresh. The captaincy can clutter your mind. It can be easy to play the game in your head and you don’t want that. I like to put the hard work in a few days out from the game.”
He further elaborated, “If you’re playing on a Friday, I’ll put the work in on Monday or Tuesday. And then the closer you get to the game, you focus more on the mental side. It’s so important to be clear with your plans and clear with what you want to do. Then anything else can just be discarded.”
Temba Bavuma prefers to have a clear mind before the game which gives him the confidence of being a great timer and manipulator of the ball. He likes his job of playing an anchor role in the team. The clarity of mind helps him in captaincy as well.
At the same time, Bavuma acknowledged that he has learned a lot from some of the greatest ever South African batters like Hashim Amla. Currently, he is focused on the white-ball leg of India’s tour of the rainbow nation after the host won the Test series by a 2-1 margin.
Taking on a skilled unit like the Indian team, Temba Bavuma feels the guys don’t need much motivation, especially after winning a series.
Describing the same, Bavuma said, “We’re desperate to build on that Test series win because India has generally had the better of us in recent years. They’ve got some of the best players on the planet who are likely to go well in all conditions.”
Talking about the rivalry between the teams, the South African skipper said, “We understand the cricketing rivalry between the sides. These are series you want to be involved in and opponents you want to test yourselves against. We want to continue the journey towards being considered among the world’s best again.”
Under the captaincy of Temba Bavuma, the South African team has managed to produce quite a few positive results and the series against India gives them the chance to continue on the quest of becoming the best again.