Temba Bavuma: Life, Biography, Career, Records, Family
Who is Temba Bavuma?
With a height of just five foot and three inches, South African batsman Temba Bavuma may not seem like the most intimidating batsman. In this age of big hits and raw power, Bavuma is a throwback to the more compact and traditional Test batsmen. After all, the little master Sachin Tendulkar was only just one inch taller. Like Tendulkar, Bavuma is a record holder but not one to do with the number of runs he has scored. Instead, Temba Bavuma is the first black specialist batsman to play for South Africa since their readmission to the cricketing world. As a result, his success and hard work has been an inspiration to thousands of young cricketers in South Africa.
Temba Bavuma: Early Career
Although he was born in Cape Town, the plucky batsman made a name for himself in the province of Gauteng (containing Johannesburg and Pretoria), close to 900 miles from his birthplace. Attending school at St David’s Marist College in Jo’burg, Bavuma found time to play for Soweto Cricket Club alongside his studies. This clearly had a great impact on the young Bavuma and he has not forgotten Soweto Cricket Club even though he has made it as an international player. In 2018, he played a match for Soweto to prove his fitness to the South African selectors showing that he has stayed true to his roots and loyal throughout his impressive career so far.
Temba Bavuma: A Lion At Heart
Bavuma made his debut for Gauteng in 2008, when he was just 18 years old. He was so impressive that it only took three years for him to earn a spot in the Highveld Lions team. The Lions are the South African equivalent of a county team and play first-class cricket in South Africa. It took just a few seasons for him to make his mark, as he was in the top five leading run scorers in the 2012-13 South African domestic season. His side was clearly impressed with the temperament and discipline he showed as a player, as he was appointed their vice-captain for their 2013-14 season. A few more years down the line and now Temba Bavuma has recently been appointed as the Lions’ captain for the 2018-19 season.
Temba Bavuma: Test Debut
It did not take long for Bavuma to earn a call-up to the South African international team. His chance came in the back end of 2014 as he was named in the Proteas’ squad to take on the West Indies. Overlooked for the first Test match of the series in Centurion, he was given the nod for the second Test at Port Elizabeth. His debut was slightly disappointing, a slow 10 in a heavily rain-affected match. However, he retained a spot for the third Test – but failed to capitalise again, scoring just 15 as South Africa cruised to an effortless eight-wicket win.
Temba Bavuma’s next opportunity for South Africa came during their tour of Bangladesh in July 2015. This time he made the most of it hitting his maiden half-century and top scoring for South Africa in their first innings of the tour. What made this innings remarkable were the particularly testing conditions he was batting in, with the then ‘mystery fast bowler’ Mustafizur Rahman running through the heart of South Africa’s batting. By reaching this milestone, Bavuma became the first black batsman to score a half-century for South Africa. However, bigger achievements were on the horizon.
A Slow Starter?
That said, Bavuma admittedly did have a rather slow start to his Test career. He averaged just 27 in his first five innings and he endured another barren tour late in 2015, struggling against a strong India side. Perhaps one reason for his lack of success was due to the lack of faith shown by the South African selectors. He was never really given an extended run during that period and their starting eleven was constantly changing on a match by match basis. Thus, when the selectors decided to give him a long run in the team, Bavuma finally took his opportunity and has not looked back since.
The Rise Of Temba Bavuma
This vital series came during England’s tour of South Africa, in the 2015-16 season. Some would argue that Bavuma was lucky to retain a spot in the Proteas top order given his poor start to his career and the pressure was raised after a duck and a scratchy ten in the first Test. Yet, Temba Bavuma clearly thrives under pressure and he produced a sublime unbeaten hundred against England. While he may not be the most aggressive player, Bavuma was still scoring his runs at a fast rate, striking at close to 70, which was the highest strike rate out of all South African batsmen in that Test. Bavuma then produced another magical innings of 78* in the fourth Test and ultimately set up South Africa’s declaration and crushing victory. This was the beginning of Bavuma’s best Test year.
In 2016, Temba Bavuma averaged 42, the highest he has ever averaged in a year so far, and was playing against strong sides such as England, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka.
Is Temba Bavuma Inconsistent?
While he was prolific in 2016, Bavuma experienced some hit and miss form in 2017. Although he hit five fifties in 2017, Bavuma only averaged 32 that year and did not reach a century. His 2017 did get off on the worst possible start, with consecutive ducks against Sri Lanka in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Statistics can be very misleading, though, and they do not paint the full picture. Bavuma, one can argue, still batted well in this season and occupied the crease for large periods of time. One such example can be found in his gritty innings of 64 (164) in Dunedin against a strong New Zealand bowling attack. Bavuma came in at the precarious position of 148-4 but battled away and led South Africa to a very respectable total of 308, which was enough to ensure that they could later draw the Test.
The Basil D’Oliveira Trophy 2017
England, who are an imperious side in home conditions, demolished the touring South African side 3-1 in the four-Test series. It was a tough series for the South African batsmen and no one really made huge runs for them. The ever-reliable Hashim Amla top-scored for them with 329 runs at an average of just over 40. So, while Temba Bavuma’s 257 runs at an average of just 32 may seem dismal at a superficial reading, he was actually South Africa’s third highest run scorer in that series. Bavuma hit two fifties against England, with his 59 (130) being a particularly stubborn effort. Therefore, Bavuma actually had a relatively decent series when his statistics are contextualised. In this era of statistics defining cricket, it is always important to put data into the appropriate context.
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When Morne Morkel Left Temba Bavuma Stranded
Temba Bavuma made the headlines earlier this year after he was cruelly stranded on 95* in the fourth Test between South Africa and Australia. He played a typically slow, but determined innings, and was in touching distance of a second Test hundred when Morne Morkel was caught behind off Pat Cummins to see the Proteas all out for 488. This left Temba Bavuma stranded just five short of the landmark and he later said that Morne Morkel was more upset than he was after the incident. Bavuma made an unbeaten 35 in the second innings as South Africa ended up securing a mammoth 492 run victory in the series marred by the sandpaper, ball-tampering scandal.
Temba Bavuma: ODI Cricket
Looking on statistics alone, Temba Bavuma is very unlucky not to have played more ODI matches than he has. Bavuma made his ODI debut in 2016 and scored a sublime century, opening the batting, against Ireland. He shared in an opening stand worth 159 with Quinton de Kock and thirteen fours and one six in his innings of 113 (123). It took over a year for Bavuma to be selected in South Africa’s ODI team again and he made 48 in that opening the batting against Bangladesh. After his first two ODI matches, Bavuma’s statistics were as follows:
|Matches||Innings||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||High Score|
Not many players could boast having such a great record after their first two games. It is ludicrous how Temba Bavuma has not been given more of an opportunity in South Africa’s ODI team and I will leave it to that.