Johannesburg – Temba Bavuma believed that the manner in which he handled the controversy around teammate Quinton de Kock at the World Cup, helped in boosting the confidence others had in him as a captain - both within and beyond the Proteas squad.
De Kock’s decision not to play in South Africa’s second group match against the West Indies, following a directive insured by Cricket SA’s Board of Directors just hours before the match, caused enormous upheaval within the side and drew the attention of the rest of the world. Bavuma in the immediate aftermath showed sensitivity, intellect and honesty in addressing the issue. In the wake of the drama, Bavuma earned praise from De Kock - who described him as a “flipping amazing leader,” the CSA Board and former England captain Michael Atherton as well as numerous other commentators from around the world.
“There was no time to consult, I just found myself in a position (where I was) weighing up both sides of the story and then being able to express my opinion. The best way to go about something, when you don’t really have a lot of time to think about it, you can really just speak to the merits of what is at hand so it doesn't become premeditated or scripted or fake,” Bavuma said on Tuesday after the squad had returned from the T20 World Cup.
“I was put in a situation that is very hard for one to prepare for. I guess I’m grateful to get out of those situations. In terms of my leadership, my confidence; I’m a lot more confident, and confident with the team, in terms of trust, the backing of each other has grown. I do believe we are in a better space as a team going forward.”
Bavuma said he noticed a shift in people’s attitude towards him and the team. And while he acknowledged that there wasn’t one specific incident which led him to that conclusion, he said the change in outlook from others outside the team was clear.
“People around me, within my circle, I’ve noticed a shift, a different type of energy and that is quite warming. The off field matters with Quinton and how that was dealt with helped increase people’s confidence in my ability as a captain.”
South Africa narrowly missed out on a spot in the play-offs of the tournament, being pipped by Australia and England based on those two teams’ superior net run-rate. “Not a lot of people had much faith in us before the World Cup, those were people within my own circles. The type of messages I was getting was along the lines of ‘go enjoy the experience,’ there wasn’t much about, setting sites on winning the World Cup. As the tournament unfolded, the sentiments changed, us qualifying became a realistic goal until Australia beat Bangladesh the way that they did.”
Australia’s win shifted them ahead of the Proteas based on net run rate and meant Bavuma’s side not only had to beat England, but do so by a massive margin in their last group match. That they failed to do, but Bavuma said the players left the tournament with their heads held high. His own personal growth from that incident, he explained, would stand him in good stead for what will be a high profile series against India later this summer.
“I guess you could say that what I have experienced lately, will prepare me for that (India series and pressure); if I look at my career, there’s always been some type of pressure around me and rightfully so.”