Johannesburg, Oct 3 (IANS) South Africa white-ball captain Temba Bavuma said that his right thumb is not 100% at the moment but he is building up to be fully fit ahead of the men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE. Bavuma and eleven players along with the support staff and management will be leaving for Dubai on Sunday and will serve six days of quarantine before starting their practice. They will be joined by other players of the team after their IPL stints are over.
“I started batting a bit yesterday just to feel it out. According to the medical team, everything is still on schedule. I am quite happy with where it’s at. It’s obviously not 100% at the moment but I am building it up and everyone is happy with the progress thus far,” Bavuma was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo in the pre-departure press conference.
If Bavuma is fit, then the mega event will mark his first major appearance in an ICC tournament as the captain. The sense of responsibility and importance hasn’t escaped his attention. “Looking at the position I am in, I acknowledge the responsibility when leaving South African shores and knowing what I am responsible for. And the thinking that when you come back from South Africa, things could be different; your life could be different. From a team point of view, it’s excitement and the anxiety of experiencing something you haven’t come across. But I think it’s more excitement at the moment.”
Then there is also the angle of being the first black player to captain South Africa in an ICC tournament. Bavuma acknowledged its significance by saying, “I don’t harp on a lot about being a black African but it is quite significant, from all angles. You talk about extra pressure, thinking about it now, it adds onto the pressure that is already there. But it’s also a privilege that I believe I’ve been blessed to have. If the opportunity is there, and the team plays accordingly, we’d like to do something special for the country.”
Taking about watching the team from the sidelines, Bavuma said that he was more involved with the team management in Sri Lanka while making a recovery from the thumb injury. “It was frustrating being on the side, but as much as I was on the side, I was quite engaged with the team,” he said. “I had conversations with the coach and Keshav (Maharaj, the stand-in captain), just to get to their thinking, their understanding and sharing my own ideas. I was more involved than I normally would be if I was on the side.”
Bavuma expressed his delight with South Africa thrashing Sri Lanka 3-0. “It wasn’t so much the victories but just the way they went about their business. They were super clinical with the bat and with the ball, they were very, very ruthless.”
The 31-year-old Bavuma concluded by saying that he will talk to South Africa’s rugby captain Siya Kollisi for inspiration from him ahead of the World Cup. Kolisi, the 2019 Rugby World Cup winning captain and Bavuma are linked by two aspects: identity and being managed by the same agency, Roc Nation.
“There’s a lot of inspiration we can take from the Springboks. That fight that they have and the resilience they’ve showed over the years, it’s something that we admire. As the Proteas, we bank on our resilience. I will touch base with him (Kolisi) over the next couple of days when things are settled, especially on his side.”
South Africa play the opening match of their Super 12 campaign against Australia on October 23 in Abu Dhabi.