Dean Elgar says that Temba Bavuma adapts to match situations better than anyone in the Proteas batting lineup.
The see-saw affair of the Basil D’Oliveira trophy continued at The Oval, as the Proteas were thoroughly outplayed in a massive 239-run defeat, to put England 2-1 up in the series with one Old Trafford Test to play.
In a match that yielded little positives, one was certainly Elgar’s fighting 136 in the second innings, albeit in a losing cause. It was the first century by a South African in this series, and it was an important return to form for Elgar, with runs desperately required at the top of the order.
Arguably holding more value, however, was the way in which Bavuma went about his work with his side struggling in both innings when he strode to the crease. Bavuma came in at 47-4 and 52-4. In the first innings he was the last man out, as his 52 carried the Proteas to 175 after the side were left stranded on 61-7. In the second innings, he managed to see off the evening session with Elgar and take the match to as fifth day, before piling on a 108-run partnership.
In light of that stand, there’s no better judge than Elgar to comment on Bavuma’s contributions.
‘Temba’s shown a hell of a lot of growth over the last month,’ said Elgar. ‘He looks extremely focused; his game plan looks the best out of all of our batters. He was unlucky in the second innings because he showed a massive amount of fight in different scenarios. Those types of encounters are something that will grow him as a player.’
A bone of contention for Bavuma is that he’s unable to push on to get big scores, with his 100 not out against England at Newlands last year remaining his top score and only Test century to date. But one can’t deny his value in the middle-order, in a Test career that has so far been defined by getting South Africa out of trouble.
‘It’s difficult when you’re doing well and struggling to get over that line by scoring a 100,’ continued Elgar. ‘Sometimes it’s maybe just a case of trying too hard. Temba is going to crack on and score us a big win soon.
‘He’s obviously a player who’s under pressure to score a lot of runs back home, which is funny because he’s always done that for us the last year or two.
‘But I’m a big Temba Bavuma fan just because of his big character, he’s a small man in stature but packs a massive punch, and I like that about him,’ concluded Elgar.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images