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Temba Bavuma - South Africa’s Little Dynamite

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Temba_Bavuma_South_Africa_CricketMore than physicality, cricket is a game of will, skill and technique. Legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar have proved that height and physical stature matter least in cricket and that these things don’t stop a player from scaling monumental heights as long as they have the will to do so. South African batsman Temba Bavuma, at only 1.61 meters in height, seems to possess the same willpower that can help him create a legacy in World cricket.

Not many fielders can think of running David Warner out; not even in their dreams! But here was Temba Bavuma, picking the ball up in a pose with his legs over his head and body in the air and still managing an accurate throw at the stumps to catch one of the fastest runners between the wickets short of his crease. Warner had no idea how it happened. To him it was always going to be an easy run with his blistering speed. But the harsh reality was he was beaten that day by a piece of brilliance on the field.

What can you do in 0.264 seconds?

Maybe sneeze or blink a couple of times, but you have to be super-quick even then. However, Bavuma did it all: from picking the ball up to hitting the stumps; all in the space of just 0.264 seconds. There is no doubt that this dismissal will be remembered as one of the all-time best run outs in the history of cricket.

But there is something more to this little man; an X-Factor that separates him from the rest of the lot.

 

It was not just his fielding that caught everyone’s imagination in the first Test against Australia at the WACA. It was also his fighting half-century in the first innings and surprisingly effective bowling, to make up for the overs of the injured Dale Steyn, that won him accolades. Although he failed to score big in the second innings, his superb fifty in the first that helped dig South Africa out of early trouble was testimony to his abilities with the bat.

It was not long ago that he scored a fighting 102* against England at Cape Town that helped South Africa tie a Test match. In the process, he became the first black African to score a Test century for South Africa. It was a knock of immense significance in the history of South African cricket and might well have ushered in a revolution, the effects of which can only be realized a few years down the line. His battle in the tough Indian conditions last year, where he fought for over four hours at the crease with scores of 22 and 34 opening the batting for South Africa in the final Test match of the already lost series, also spoke of his temperament as a batsman.

One year down the line, and today he has already established himself as an integral part of the South African Test squad; for South Africa have found a solid middle order batsman who will also play in any position whenever required. His versatility is not limited only to his batting, as he can bowl surprisingly effectively as well.

The World got its first glimpse when he was handed over the ball to get through a few deliveries with his slow medium pace in the first Test against Australia at the WACA. And he could have made history by claiming the wicket of Usman Khawaja with his very first delivery if he hadn’t overstepped. Nevertheless, he impressed everyone as he got some bounce off the pitch, hit some cracks consistently, used the width of the crease well and was a lot quicker than he seemed. He troubled the Australian batsmen with his bounce and clever variations, which is not a cup of tea for someone who has only five first class wickets from just 200 deliveries to his name. But Bavuma seemed to be a bowler with a mature head as he finally claimed his first Test wicket - Josh Hazlewood could not handle the bounce and skied it to Dean Elgar at cover.

The transformation of Bavuma looked complete at that moment- a solid batsman, an exceptional fielder and now a handy bowler. A perfect foil for any format of the game in these modern days of cricket. At only 26 years of age, there shouldn’t be any looking back for him.

He should only look forward to the opportunities lying ahead and improve with each and every game. If he can do that then he can become even more of a role model for the next generation of Black African cricketers. The future definitely looks bright for Temba Bavuma- ‘The little South African Dynamite’! Long live the Little Master Legacy!

 

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Prasenjit, a techie by profession and Sports writer by passion, hails from the 'City of Joy'-Kolkat...

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