Temba Bavuma says he wants to bat in the No 4 position, the vacancy left open after AB de Villiers’ retirement.
In his 29-match Test career, Bavuma has been regular at No 6, playing 33 innings in 21 Tests in the position. With De Villiers retiring, he has set his sights on the No 4 spot, a position he has only occupied in three Tests and five innings for the Proteas.
‘I will be opportunistic because there is a spot open for someone to come in at No 4 and I am putting up my hand for that position,’ said Bavuma at a training camp in Pretoria on Tuesday.
‘Hopefully, the selectors are looking towards me. But if not, wherever they want me to play, I will try to execute as best as possible.’
Bavuma scored 46 in his first match at No 4, when the Proteas played against England at Old Trafford in August 2017, in a 177-run loss that helped England secure the series 3-1.
He kept his spot in the following home series against Bangladesh by playing three innings at No 4 but this was the last time he batted in the position. He has averaged 41.75 in his five innings, substantially higher than his career average of 34.87.
‘I had the opportunity in England and I quite enjoyed it even though it was a tough Test match and series,’ he said. ‘I enjoyed the responsibility, and in a way, it is something that could help my game because I have not been able to convert most of my starts.
‘Coming in at No 4, the opportunity is there to score those big runs and it goes hand-in-hand with what I am trying to achieve. But the decision rests with the selectors, the coach and the captain.’
The Proteas play their first of a two-Test series in Sri Lanka on 12 July, with the second Test taking place on 20 July. Bavuma is looking forward to the challenge of the spin-friendly subcontinental conditions.
‘Playing on the subcontinent is different from playing here at home because spin becomes a key thing,’ he said. ‘You must be able to rotate off the spin and also to hit boundaries. It is about familiarising yourself to the challenges where the ball will be spinning and you must have a game plan for that. I have never been to Sri Lanka but I will try to make it a good one for myself and the team.’
Photo: EPA/Muzi Ntombela