Walter backs Bavuma as Proteas return from unsuccessful World Cup
Proteas coach Rob Walter has given his unequivocal backing for Temba Bavuma, even though it is not clear whether the opening batter will continue as captain of the ODI side.
Bavuma and Walter came in for criticism after the Proteas lost to Australia in the World Cup semifinal in Kolkata on Thursday, where the captain played while not 100% fit and was dismissed for a duck.
Walter reminded the critics of Bavuma's contributions that helped the Proteas to qualify for the World Cup.
“I think people have short memories. People have forgotten Temba was our best batter before the World Cup. He was the large contributing factor for us making it to the World Cup in the first place with his performances against England, Netherlands and West Indies,” the coach said.
“I keep saying the batters work as a unit and you are not always going to contribute. People underestimate the small contributions.
“Temba would have liked to have kicked on a few times but being able to step up out of the power play at 60/1 is a huge part of what our blueprint looks like, because it allows guys like Aiden Markram to come in the deeper part of the innings and really influence, [also] a Heinrich Klaasen or David Miller.
“Everyone goes through slumps in form. It was a World Cup, so yes, there was a spotlight on it [Bavuma's form], but we tend to have short memories. I certainly back Temba the whole way. He’s done enough for this country as far as cricket goes for him to get my backing.”
Despite Walter's strong backing, Bavuma could not say whether he has the appetite to continue as captain.
“Emotions are a bit high now, so that question is a bit unfair. I'll probably answer it far better in a week’s time,” he said.
“It’s a privilege and honour. We don’t probably speak [enough] about the other side — of the burdensome nature of the job. That is not really documented enough and I don’t feel like I could have really prepared myself for it, but you find your way and navigate around it once you are fully within the role.
“I never had the appetite for captaincy. I never dreamt about it, but if I am given the role and the challenge, I will go for it. But that question [his future] is more for coach Rob if he still sees me as the person to take the team forward.
“It's weird how a couple of months ago this question didn’t come to the fore. Here we are two months later and I have to answer questions of that nature. Maybe it is something I did not prepare myself for before going to the World Cup.
“It is weird how [in the pre-World Cup ODI series] against Australia there were smiles and everything was good.”
Bavuma said Walter has brought excitement to his game.
“The relationship between captain and coach is probably the most important one. My relationship with coach is still new. We only got to know each other in January and we are understanding each other’s leadership styles.
“For me the fun and exciting bit was the brand of cricket and I always speak about that. It was the brand of cricket that we challenge ourselves to play and he saw me as the person to lead that.
“He brought fun and excitement to my game — I really enjoyed that.”
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