6 January 2016
Temba Bavuma is South Africa’s new cricketing hero, scoring his first Test century in the second Test against England in Cape Town on 5 January 2016. In front of a captivated crowd that included his father, Bavuma helped the Proteas side fight back against a formidable English team, as the rivals go into the final day of the match today.
His century was the first scored by a black South African since the country’s re- admittance into the international cricket fraternity in 1991.
— IOL News (@IOL) January 5, 2016
While South Africa has produced some exceptional and legendary black bowlers such as Makhaya Ntini and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, fans have been anxiously waiting for a batsman like Bavuma to break the mold of the typical South African batting line- up with heaps of talent and unreserved drive to stand toe to toe with the big guns, such as Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers.
The 25-year-old Capetonian earned his stripes playing for the Gauteng Lions, where he has been since 2010, batting at an average of 60. Despite his short stature – Bavuma is 1.67m – he is known to hit the ball hard and fast, with unusually high conversion rates for half-centuries and centuries for the Lions.
Bavuma debuted for the South African A side in 2012 against Sri Lanka and represented the Lions at the 2015 Africa T20 Cup against the best of African cricket. He played his first Test for the Proteas against the West Indies in 2014, and received the call-up again this season to tackle the English in the traditional New Year’s Test at Newlands, Cape Town. Bavuma’s 102 (not out) helped South Africa build a challenging score of 627 for the English to reach with only one day remaining in the five-day Test.
Bavuma spent most of the day in a heated battle against England’s new bowling wunderkind Ben Stokes, who – in the spirit of the game – was the first to congratulate Bavuma on his landmark performance.
For Bavuma the century was significant, and as he told News24 yesterday, he hoped it would be inspirational. “At first cricket was a passion; I just played for the love of it,” he said, “(but now I realise) cricket can be more than a passion. It can be something I can use to inspire other young black players.
“I understand the significance of the performance. It’s not just me walking on the field; it’s for the kids. I’ve been yearning for this, fighting for it. I’m not too sure about the reaction from the public, but for me it’s just satisfaction and relief of the performance.”
His father, retired Cape Argus managing editor Vuyo Bavuma, was at Newlands to cheer his son on to his milestone, which was a sort of homecoming for the up- and-coming cricket star. “I was born here in Cape Town, and this is where I learned cricket – the passion – and I grew up here. So having achieved this kind of milestone at my favourite ground in the world, I think it makes it a bit more special,” he said.
South Africans and cricketing fans around the world took to social media to congratulate Bavuma on his achievement. Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula called it “a proud moment” on Twitter, adding that the performance was “a great display of excellence”.
Another ‘I was there moment’ .. Fantastic .. #Bavuma
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) January 5, 2016
— bongani bingwa (@bonglez) January 5, 2016
Bavuma’s century will hopefully see him out on the field for South Africa for the remaining Tests against England in Johannesburg and Pretoria in January, as well as for the one-day internationals around South Africa in February. Bavuma also hopes to get the call up to the Proteas for the upcoming T20 World Cup in India in March.