Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar says Temba Bavuma is feeling rejuvenated after a short break from the game.
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Bavuma would be the only specialist batsman in the SA squad headed to Australia not required to play first-class cricket after the T20 World Cup.
Bavuma has struggled for runs in white-ball cricket recently and many felt playing for the Lions in the 4-Day Series would have done him the world of good.
However, he was granted a holiday instead and Elgar believes it was the best move for both the team and the player.
“The time off has done him well. He wanted to have a break from the game for a little while and you’ve got to respect that as well,” Elgar said.
“He has got a lot of pressure on his plate but we still have work to do and he has to be in the right space for the team.
“That’s going to be the message I put forward to him and I am pretty sure he will respond well.
“He hasn’t played a lot of cricket of late and it’s up to me to get him into the right space, so we give him the best opportunity to go out and play his brand of Test cricket.”
Bavuma should take confidence from the fact that he has made runs in Test cricket over the past two years – 767 in 11 Tests at an average of 47.93, including six fifties.
South Africa lost their most recent Test series, away to England, after their batting lineup – sans the injured Bavuma – was badly exposed. They only scored more than 200 once in three Tests.
Elgar says the team is considering whether to play a seventh batsman in Australia, and just four bowlers, or stick with a six-five split.
“Both options are definitely still on the table,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s got to be what I am happy with taking on the field and whether I feel the bowlers have got enough in their tank to perform a heavy workload.
“Either way, it will be a positive move we make, whether we go with seven-four or six-five. Currently, we are still in a bit of debate around it.”
Proteas Test squad: Dean Elgar (c, Titans), Temba Bavuma (Lions), Gerald Coetzee (Knights), Theunis de Bruyn (Titans), Sarel Erwee (Dolphins), Simon Harmer (Titans), Marco Jansen (Warriors), Heinrich Klaasen (Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Lungi Ngidi (Titans), Anrich Nortje (Warriors), Kagiso Rabada (Lions), Rassie van der Dussen (Lions), Kyle Verreynne (Western Province), Lizaad Williams (Titans), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins).
South Africa tour to Australia:
- Four-day tour match, 9-12 December – vs Cricket Australia XI – The Allan Border Field, Brisbane
- 1st Test, 17-21 December – The Gabba, Brisbane
- 2nd Test, 26-30 December – MCG, Melbourne
- 3rd Test, 4-8 January – SCG, Sydney