Batsman Temba Bavuma struck a superb century on the final day of the Lions’ 4-Day Domestic Series fixture against the Dolphins at the City Oval in Pietermaritzburg this week.
Bavuma hit 180, but could not force a draw for the Lions. Instead, the Dolphins welcomed victory over the franchise that is at the top of the 2019-20 tournament’s six-team standings.
The diminutive right-hander struck 23 fours, but no sixes, during a 453-minute and 282-delivery vigil. The score marked the highest of a 12-year first-class career. Bavuma’s previous best was 162 for South Africa A. His former best for the Lions was 153.
He was dropped from the Proteas XI prior to the second Test against England at Newlands in Cape Town earlier this year, which influenced Betway online sports betting.
If you’re not finding yourself starting now, it’s about weight of runs,” said Proteas captain Faf du Plessis at the time.
“Temba was injured before the start of the series but it was a talking point even before the series – whose positions do we need to make sure there is more competition for?
“It’s about finding guys that are knocking on the door all the time to push us to a level where we can take this batting line-up to win games of cricket consistently.
“Temba will be the first to say that his performance over the last while wasn’t where it needed to be. Weight of runs would be the way back into the team, like it would for anyone.”
Proteas assistant coach Enoch Nkwe, meanwhile, has effectively earmarked Bavuma to succeed du Plessis as Test captain in the foreseeable future. Bavuma has captained the Lions in franchise cricket – and led the Jozi Stars during the Mzansi Super League last year. The Stars didn’t win one match, much to the dismay of those who bet on them on websites like Betway.
“We’re keeping very close with Temba. I strongly believe he’s a good player, and he’s in the process of making sure that – from a mental, emotional and skills point of view – when he gets an opportunity to come back, whether it’s in the next Test match or in a different format, he takes ownership of his position and does 10 times more than what he has done,” Nkwe told ESPNcricinfo.
“We’re confident and believe in him. Head coach Mark Boucher is the same, and the rest of the team. All I’m going to ask is that we are more patient. We’re trying to put a few things in place so that we can shape things in the right direction.”
Du Plessis, though, has refused to be drawn into comparisons with Bavuma. Du Plessis, like Bavuma, has not scored a Test century for an extended period, as Betway values will attest.
“When you have played international cricket for as long I have, it comes with media for you and media against you. And to read to much into it, for and against – it’s really important for any player not to get sucked into it too much,” he added.
“I am not getting in a battle with myself and Temba over who plays and who doesn’t. My performances also need to go up in terms of scoring. Temba has been put in a position where he needs to score runs to get back into the team and if he does that, he will.”