Why is Temba Bavuma being tested at ODI level before he’s been tested at domestic level?
It’s important to say, straight away, that this is purely on cricketing grounds. The ODI squad to face Ireland has Kagiso Rabada, Aaron Phangiso and Andile Phehlukwayo. The transformation targets can be met, and comfortably.
It’s obviously a shame to bring an accomplished player like Bavuma into this debate. He has the technique and temperament to thrive at international level, and he’s proved that with some excellent Test performances.
The problem I have with his ODI selection, is that he’s only in the one-off match against Ireland on Sunday. If CSA genuinely back his abilities at the highest level in this format, then why isn’t he in the five-match squad to face Australia?
As the old saying goes, it’s easier to find work when you’re in work, and he’s expressed his desire to play in ODIs before. He’s expected to open too, and it could be argued that the decision to back Hashim Amla to open ODIs back in 2008 was more of a hunch than anything too, and look what happened.
But on selecting Bavuma, Linda Zondi said ‘as far as Temba Bavuma is concerned we want to see what he can do in the ODI format after the extremely successful run he has had in the Test squad.’
We want to ‘see what he can do’? It might just be against Ireland, but this is still an international match. Why don’t they ‘see what he can do’ after an extended run of form in the One Day Cup with the Lions first? Or for SA A?
He averages only 26.73 with one professional century. I’ve no doubt he’s better than those stats, but it’s still not enough to earn national selection in this format. And before you mention his century in the eKasi Challenge, it was a friendly match against up and coming bowlers at the short boundaries of the Soweto Oval.
So who should be there? There are two players that spring to mind. Both of them played in the recent SA A quadrangular one-day series, and both of them played excellently. Both of them have been consistent performers in domestic cricket for a number of years. Qaasim Adams and Theunis de Bruyn. If you’re going to give players a taste of international cricket, then why not the guys who have performed admirably through the correct channels?
Bavuma is not a quota player. He’s a quality Test batsman. But his career is just getting started. Why throw a spanner in the works with an ODI call-up? Alviro Petersen mentioned in his column that ‘you can manipulate the number of players to play in a certain format. You can target a format where you want to play your full-strength team.’
I believe CSA are already crossing this dangerous line.
The fine lines of sport are such that Bavuma should have been out in the second over against Ireland on Sunday, with his score on one. The website cricinfo.com in its commentary reported: Chase to Bavuma, FOUR, dropped!, an early chance goes bagging for Ireland, Bavuma driving without footwork again and a thick edge bursts through Kevin O’Brien’s hands at second slip. Went quite quickly, and had to move a little to his left, but got to hold those.
A subsequent wonderful hundred, against Ireland, does not alter the original view.
This column first appeared on SACricketmag.com in the build-up to Bavuma’s debut and has been updated with the last two paragraphs to reflect his performance.
Photo: Chris Rocco/Backpage Pix