Temba Bavuma hopes to inspire other black Africans after maiden Test ton

Published: Tuesday 5th January 2016 by The News Editor

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Temba Bavuma hopes his historic maiden hundred can act as an inspiration for other black Africans in South Africa.

The 25-year-old became the first black African to score a Test century on day four of the second Test against England, a major personal milestone but a seminal moment in the wider sporting fabric of the country.

Bavuma is just 25 and stands a modest five foot three inches but his 102 not out at Newlands makes him a sizeable figure in South Africa.

Fast bowler Makhaya Ntini won 101 caps and became a totemic figure in a nation where around 80 per cent of the population is black but Bavuma is just the fifth black African to follow him into the team and the first batsman.

Cricket South Africa’s commitment to transformation through an ethnically balanced national side has resulted in some awkward questions about selection policy, with Bavuma himself under scrutiny before this game in Cape Town.

But his answer at the crease was emphatic and his words afterwards came imbued with feeling, perspective and hope for the future.

As a township boy growing up in nearby Langa he never dreamed this would be his destiny, but it is one for which Bavuma seems well suited.

“At first cricket was a passion, I just played for the love of it,” he said.

“When I made the SA schools side, that’s when I got the realisation cricket could be more than a passion, something I can use to inspire other people.

“When I made my debut for South Africa I came to be a bit more aware and realise the significance behind it all. It’s not about me making my debut it’s about being a role model, an inspiration for other kids…black African kids.

“Achieving this kind of milestone will strengthen that example.”

It must have been hard for one so young to deal with the weight of political history on his shoulders, not least in a team game as solitary as cricket.

This moment has been a long time coming too, with South Africa readmitted to the international game in 1991 following the end of Apartheid.

“It’s a whole lot of pressure to be honest,” he said.

“I understand the significance but I’m struggling to find the words.

“It’s not just me walking on the field, it’s not just me walking on the field…it’s a whole lot of kids.

“Whenever I go back home I know I’m going to have those kinds running around me. There’s greater significance about it.

“But I don’t think it’s unfair. Everyone faces pressure, from their family or their community. Pressure is pressure, it comes in different forms and pressure can be positive at times.

“I’ve been yearning for this, fighting for it. I’m not too sure about the reaction from the public…for me it’s just satisfaction and relief.”

England assistant coach Paul Farbrace praised Bavuma for his innings, which was not only deeply resonant but also extremely skilful.

“I think Bavuma played magnificently well right from his first scoring shot through extra cover. He played superbly,” he said.

“It was a fantastic innings from start to finish, he gave one tough chance but played well on front foot and back foot and both sides of the wicket.

“He looks a very talented player.”

Farbrace also played down an incident involving Ben Stokes when Bavuma still had just eight on the board.

Stokes saw the batsman inside edge the ball just past his stumps and offered a less-than-complimentary verdict of Bavuma’s technique, complete with expletive.

But Farbrace added: “Ben was the first person to run after him and shake his hand to say well played.

“It’s a tough sport but I counted six of our lads who ran over and Ben was the first. Our lads are up there now talking about how well he played.

“You’re going to get a bit of frustration when you’re in the field for 211 overs but I don’t think anything crossed the line.”

Bavuma, who has overcome challenges more taxing than an off-the-cuff sledge, was also happy to brush it off.

“He is a tough competitor,” he said of Stokes.

“He did come hard but after I reached my milestone he was man enough to say congratulations. That’s something you can respect in a man.”

Published: Tuesday 5th January 2016 by The News Editor

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