Floating like a butterfly‚ stinging like Bavuma at the Wanderers
Shaun Marsh was floating like a butterfly outside his crease when Quinton de Kock was stung by a bee at the Wanderers on Saturday.
Instead of zapping the stumps to earn a wicket for Keshav Maharaj‚ De Kock was himself zapped on his upper left arm and rendered motionless for several seconds.
So Marsh — unlike the bee — survived.
So did Australia‚ but less well than they would have hoped‚ limping to stumps on the second day of the fourth Test on one wing: 110/6‚ or 378 behind South Africa’s first innings of 488.
Given the drama of the past month‚ what happened to De Kock as the close approached didn’t sting anyone except the wicketkeeper.
Ugly altercations between players on and off the field‚ misogyny in the crowd and ball-tampering have all taken away from a series that should have been as sweet as honey for aficionados of the long-form game.
Instead it has swarmed of nastiness that has seen Steve Smith‚ David Warner and Cameron Bancroft banned and make a bee-line home in disgrace.
“We’ve just taken on board to try to really care for each other this week‚” Australia bowling coach David Saker said.
“We’re realists and we’re going to try to play as best we can‚ but we’re just trying to care about each other and trying to put in a performance that the Australian nation and our group are proud of.
“So far that hasn’t happened‚ but the effort’s been there and there’s no doubt in the dressing room the guys are trying their hardest. It just hasn’t worked this game.”
Kagiso Rabada was also in danger of buzzing off for the rest of the series after he was suspended in the wake of a shoulder-bump on Smith‚ but Dali Mpofu dared to enter the beehive of the appeal process and remove the barb.
Happily there was something to celebrate on Saturday in the shape of Temba Bavuma’s undefeated 95‚ an innings that was part busy bee‚ part trapped in beeswax.
At least‚ to those who wondered what Bavuma was doing taking 35 deliveries to go from 26 to 27.
“I had to exercise a lot of discipline‚” he said.
“In my first-class career‚ that was how I was able to achieve my success‚ with discipline — setting a goal and understanding what you are meant to do‚ and staying with that.
“Then you need to be in the right mental state to dominate. That’s what I tried to do today and thankfully it came off.”
It did. Until Pat Cummins removed Keshav Maharaj and Morné Morkel with consecutive deliveries to end the innings.
“Morné is very disappointed‚” Bavuma said about Morkel’s obvious agony at helplessly fending the first ball he faced to second slip.
“He did throw some profanities. I kind of felt for him and it took away the disappointment that I had. “You almost had to give him the shoulder to cry on.”
Morkel is 1.96 metres tall. Bavuma tops out at 1.62 metres.
That’s 34 centimetres of separation — which is nothing for people as big‚ in the best ways‚ as Bavuma.
“I would never be cross at Morné or the other batsman‚” Bavuma said.
“I can only look at myself and look back at my innings and maybe there were opportunities that I let go that I could have turned into a hundred.
“I’ll take a lot of confidence and comfort from the fact that I was able to assist the team into getting into such a strong batting position.”
Bee’s knees‚ that man.