Proteas captain Temba Bavuma is looking forward to returning to action after admittedly enduring a frustrating three months on the injury sidelines, saying he was relishing the opportunity to visit India and then Australia over the coming two months.
South Africa leave for a six-match tour to India on Friday where they will face the hosts in three Twenty20 Internationals and three one-day internationals. They will then head straight to Australia for the T20 World Cup that runs from 16 October to 13 November.
Bavuma and the rest of his team spent the last few days before leaving the country in Cape Town where they have been doing some team building together. The skipper has been out since picking up an elbow injury in June, a blow that forced him to miss the Proteas’ multi-format tour to the United Kingdom.
But he is now back and ready to lead the team, saying their immediate objective was to get everyone firing for the World Cup, where they are scheduled to face India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and two yet-to-be-determined teams in Group 2.
“We want to get the guys into form, most of them have been in form but guys like me, I’ve been out of action for the past three months so now I’m looking forward to that,” Bavuma said at his departure press conference. “Personally, I just want to be out there on the park and using that opportunity to get game time, to get runs behind me and to get the confidence back.
“There may be other guys as well not yet in the right form, so it’s about getting them to where they need to be at. We also need to finalise that final XI. We have a good idea of what that team will look like, but also considering the fact that conditions in India are different to those in Australia. So the side we probably play in Australia won’t necessarily be the one in India.”
The skipper also spoke about his injury that forced him to miss T20 series wins against England and Ireland.
“The last few months have been the toughest from an injury point of view,” he explained. “It was definitely frustrating.
“Going through that period not really knowing when I was going to recover with my elbow, it was quite difficult mentally. But I’m here now, by elbow feels good, I obviously opted against the surgery, but I’m excited and blessed to have the opportunity again to run out there for the Proteas.”
The South African players visited Robben Island on Wednesday and Bavuma said it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
“The trip to Robben Island was an inspirational one for many of us in the team,” he stated. “The last time I went there I think I was about eight, so I didn’t remember much. This felt like a new experience and it definitely strengthened the sense of purpose for me.”
The South Africa limited-overs captain was also asked about the current exciting brand of white-ball cricket the team was playing. They have looked a transformed team in the two shorter formats and Bavuma was asked whether that will change when Head Coach Mark Boucher leaves his role after the World Cup.
“It’s difficult to look that far into the future,” he responded. “We’re just focussed on the now at the moment and that is on the tour to India. The focus is also on filling the gaps that need to be filled in terms of preparation, also in terms of getting the guys into form leading up to the World Cup and making sure we keep holding on to our confidence and belief as a unit. That’s where the focus is right now.”
He also added that Boucher’s departure gave the Proteas further incentive to perform well in Australia.
“We obviously have the situation of the coach who will be leaving the team after the World Cup and I guess that’s an extra bit of motivation for us as a unit with everything that is already there,” he concluded.
“What happens after the World Cup is quite hard to talk about. In terms of the brand of play I don’t see that changing. I think the language that we’ve been speaking as a team has been quite consistent over the last 18 months, so I don’t see that changing. The coach will leave, but his taste and brand on the team that is with us at the moment, that will continue.”
South Africa fly out to India today with the opening T20 scheduled for next Wednesday, 28 September in Thiruvananthapuram.