Stop with the Bavuma bashing!

If you’re calling for Temba Bavuma to be left out of the Proteas side for either the World Cup semi-final or final (presuming he is match fit), then you either don’t know how to read cricket statistics, don’t know anything about cricket, are racist… or all of the above!

Bavuma’s World Cup form hasn’t been great, but he was in superb form leading up to the World Cup, including scoring 57, 46 & 114* against Australia. This year, leading up to the World Cup, he scored ​​ 36, 109, 35, 144, 90*, 6, 114*, 46, 57 & 0 in ODIs… so, yes, he’s a man who can score runs. He’s clearly worth his place in the side.

He also has the second-highest career ODI average in the South African side (47.25)… and that average is also higher than all of our Aussie opponents!

What about his scores in this year’s World Cup? He’s scored 8, 35, 16, 28, 24, 11, 23… sound familiar?

Aiden Markram scored 66 on his ODI debut against a struggling Bangladesh attack… and 17 ODI innings later he scored 67* against Sri Lanka, who were at the end of a long tour (Markram was also dropped four times that innings). However, the 16 innings between those two innings read like this: 9, 8, 32, 22, 32, 24, 0, 3, 20, 27, 35, 42, 36, 19, 32 & 29. Pretty similar to Temba’s form now, isn’t it… but back then anyone questioning Aiden’s place received high level hate online.

As it turns out, after his 67* against Sri Lanka, Markram went to the 2019 World Cup and scored 11, 45, 5, DNB, 38, 7, DNB & 34… yet still he was regarded as sliced bread with creamy butter on top.

Why is it that Markram had so much backing from the South African public (or at least a certain demographic)… yet if Temba has a handful of sub-par scores the knives are out calling for his head?

England kept faith with Jos Buttler throughout this World Cup because they knew his value, his talent and his track record. Buttler has the potential to do something special any time he goes to bat… and the same applies to Temba. He’s worth betting on, especially when the pressure is hot, which is likely to happen in the semi-final and, hopefully, in the final.

I find it hard not to think that it is racism at play… but perhaps it’s just fear that if South Africa has TWO black captains lifting up two World Cups in the space of a month that it will burst the bubble of everyone who cries about quotas and BEE and transformation. Let’s not label it racism, as that is a strong word… but I think we can definitely brand it as fear, and that is just sad in a country with such beautiful people who have largely seemed to embrace Mandela’s concept of a Rainbow Nation.

We have a brilliant bowling attack that has the power to knock sides over. Sometimes they struggle, like all bowling attacks in whiteball cricket, but there is serious talent there. We were an all-rounder light, but Marco Jansen has stepped up to the plate brilliantly in this World Cup, and Andile is a superb substitute when required.

Batting has always been our bugbear… but we now have six brilliant batters in place who have all been producing fantastic results over the past year… and just in time for the semi-final and final. De Kock, Markram, Klaasen and Miller are explosive and dynamic batters who can tear an attack apart, while Rassie and Temba both know how to consolidate an innings if it goes off the rails… yet both can also score quickly once they hit that part of the game plan. And Reeza Hendricks is waiting ready to prove himself whenever a spot opens up in the top 6.

Klusener was beyond great in 1999 (except when it came to calling for singles!) but this team actually has WORLD CHAMPS written all over it. It will really help if we win the toss, although they do know how to chase… just think back to 438/4, which is part of our DNA now. Or to January this year, when we chased down 343 against England in Bloemfontein (Temba scored 109… and Buttler 94*)!

But what will really help is if all real South Africans just get behind the team and support them, like they did with the Springboks. Don’t listen to our negative media that is happy for us to fail as it gives them a better chance for clickbait and higher readerships or more viewers… and don’t listen to former players who themselves were never able to hold on to the World Cup.

It’s time to really back the Proteas at their moment of greatest need, and whoever is fit and able to take the field. These guys are not just champions… they are our champions.

– Simon Lewis

Photo: ICC