South Africa’s Temba Bavuma can inspire next generation

A historic moment for cricket in South Africa. On the fourth day of the second Test against England in Cape Town, Temba Bavuma, the 25-year-old batsman from the Langa township outside the city, became the first black South African to score a century for his country.

His stylish unbeaten 102 drew a standing ovation and powered his team into a position of strength, allowing his captain, Hashim Amla, to declare on 627 for seven and set up a tense fifth day for the tourists.

Bavuma, the first black South African to be selected as a specialist batsman when he made his debut for South Africa against West Indies in December 2014, hopes this breakthrough innings can now inspire the next generation.

“I was born in Cape Town and cricket has always been my passion, so to achieve this milestone at my favourite ground makes it even more special,” he said.

“When I made my debut I came to be aware of the significance; it was not just me making my debut but also being a model for black African kids to aspire to. In achieving this milestone, it will strengthen that example.”

While nearly 80% of South Africa’s population is black, only the fast bowler Makhaya Ntini has forged a significant international career, taking 390 wickets in 101 Tests between 1998 and 2009.

The wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile and the seamers Monde Zondeki, Mfuneko Ngam and Lonwabo Tsotsobe have played a combined 17 Tests, although the fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, at the crease when Bavuma brought up his century, looks another player of huge promise.

Asked about this additional pressure, the 5ft 3in Bavuma replied: “It’s a lot – and not something I played towards. But I understand the significance that when I am walking on to the field it’s not just me but a whole lot of kids I’m representing. When I go back to Langa, I know I will have those kids running up to me.”

Bavuma, playing in only his fourth Test, shared a stand of 167 with the debutant Chris Morris, who made 69, on a second successive day of frustration for England’s bowlers. Four catches went to ground and Stuart Broad was fined 30% of his match fee for dissent when allegedly asking the umpires to get on with the game.

One of the first to congratulate the right-hander when his thick edge off Steven Finn ran to third man for a boundary was the all-rounder Ben Stokes, who had a running verbal battle with him during his 148-ball knock.

Bavuma said: “[Stokes] is a tough competitor. He did come hard but in the spirit of the game he was man enough to congratulate me – that’s something you can respect. The more he spoke to me out there, the more it fired me up to knuckle down and stay focused on the game.”

Paul Farbrace, England’s assistant coach, said: “Ben was first to run after him to shake his hand. Our lads have just been talking about how well he played. You will get the odd bit of frustration during 200 or so overs in the field. I don’t think it’s anything that has crossed the line or will cause issues between the teams. And I thought Bavuma played magnificently, right from the start. He looks a very talented player.”

On the dropped catches, of which Bavuma was one when, on 77, an edge off Broad was grassed by the wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, Farbrace said: “If players were not practising you would be disappointed but I can assure you we are. Trevor Bayliss says fielding is an attitude and we won’t be making any excuses.”

Credit -Guardian -Ali Martin

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