After playing a match-winning knock of 98 in the first ODI against England, South Africa batsman Temba Bavuma hopes his innings will send a strong message to those who were continuously questioning his place in the playing XI. With new skipper, Quinton de Kock in the company, Bavuma’s knock powered South Africa to an easy seven-wicket win over world champions England at Newlands, Cape Town on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old accepted the fact that it’s tough being under scrutiny all the time because of the skin colour and it has affected him mentally. On Tuesday, Bavuma (98) shared a 173-run second-wicket stand with skipper de Kock (107) as they chased down England’s 259 with 14 balls to spare. Unfortunately, Bavuma just fell two runs short of a second ODI century as Chris Jordan skidded a ball through to trap him on his crease.
“Yes, I am black, that’s my skin. But I play cricket because I love it. I’d like to think the reason I am in the team is because of performances I have put forward in my franchise side, and also for the national team, whenever I have been able to,” Bavuma told reporters after the Cape Town ODI.
“The discomfort was there, having to navigate myself around all those types of talks. Players get dropped, I am not the last guy to get dropped. That’s something we’ve come to accept.”
Earlier, Bavuma was dropped from Test side for a home series against England that South Africa lost 1-3.
“It has been hard,” Bavuma, who was speaking for the first time since his recall to the national team last month.
“It’s not so much the dropping part, all players get dropped, everyone goes through slumps of not scoring well. The awkwardness and uncomfortability from my side are when you are thrown into talks of transformation,” he added.
Bavuma’s axing created a stir on social media and brought back the age-old transformation debate in South African cricket which has plagued the country in the past. Questions were raised whether Bavuma deserves a place in the national side or he was only being picked just to complete the transformation target in country’s apartheid era.
However, the 29-year-old rejected the argument and called for a fair judgment of the ideology of transformation. According to rules, South Africa’s national side has to always field six players of their colour, including two black Africans.
“The one thing that irks me is when you are seen through the eyes of transformation,” he said.
“When you do well, transformation is not spoken about but when you do badly, transformation is thrown at the top of the agenda. I have a serious problem with that. We’ve got to be able to take the good with the bad. If transformation is bad when black African players are not doing well, then when we are doing well, let’s also recognise transformation for what it’s done.”
South Africa will now face England in the second ODI on Friday (February 7) at Kingsmead, Durban.