New Delhi. This is from 2001. Cape Town’s prestigious South African College Schools (SACS) presented a ‘project’ to the students with the theme ‘Where do I see myself in the next 15 years’. He was an 11-year-old boy whose essay found a place in the school’s home magazine. The child was none other than Temba Bavuma, currently captain of South Africa’s limited overs team, who wrote, “I see myself shaking hands with Mr Mbeki (then President of South Africa) in the next 15 years.” Who is congratulating me for building a strong South African team.
Bavuma, a class VI student, further wrote, “If I can do that, I will certainly be grateful for the support of my coaches and parents, and especially my two ‘uncles’ who made me worthy.”
This essay of Bavuma was given a lot of attention by the local media then. Many people may not have taken the words of this child growing towards adolescence seriously, but exactly 15 years after this, in 2016 when Bavuma became the first black South African to score a century in Test cricket, Mbeki had stepped down from the presidency. But the barely 62-inch tall Bavuma not only made his prediction come true, but he also raised the stature of South Africa, which is still trying to recover from the heart-wrenching pain of old age three decades after the end of apartheid.
And knowingly or unknowingly, Bavuma continues to play his vital role as the first black captain of the national cricket team which is not just a symbol but a ray of hope for a society that is striving to mingle with the society that has It was suppressed for centuries. As South Africa’s limited-overs captain and having played only 16 ODIs so far (though he has played 47 Tests), Bavuma’s calm but solid batting played a key role in his team’s Test series win against India and limited overs. His lively presence on the field as the captain of the overs has given new hope. And why shouldn’t it be so?
After all, he has led from the front against an Indian team adorned with top players like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah. This is no trivial achievement. Sipokazi Sokanilee is a very popular media manager associated with the South African men’s team and Bavuma seems to be the de facto leader.
He has seen Bavuma not only as a player but also as a person in the dressing room. “Temba is a real leader and does not expect anyone to do the work he is not in a position to do himself,” Sipokaji told PTI.
“Temba has set high standards for the players and the team and everyone is a part of that environment. We have a very good team culture which gives everyone a sense of togetherness.
Langa is a suburb of Cape Town where black South Africans suffered various forms of persecution during the days of apartheid. It has its own socio-political history. Bavuma raised himself in such an area under the guidance of his journalist father Vuyo and sports loving mother. The fate of Bavuma was written to shine like the sun (in the local language the sun is called Langa).
Incidentally, before Bavuma, another international cricketer, Thami Solekile, whose career did not last long came out of Langa. He was also a hockey player. He was banned for match-fixing in domestic T20 tournaments. But Bavuma’s recovery as a key player and leader last year also strengthened the community. He made them realize that they too can reach this point.
He is aware of his social status as evidenced by his statement after the 3-0 win over India. Bavuma said on Sunday, “I don’t think it is easy (captaining the team). In this you need to manage many things.
The biggest thing for me was to focus on cricket.” Freedom of expression was not common in South African teams at one time. Ask Makhaya Ntini for whom work was not easy even in his best days. Sipokaji feels that Bavuma wants to change this completely.
“Temba and Dean Elgar have created a team culture that is everyone-friendly, in which everyone has freedom of expression and in which they feel they are part of the team,” he said.
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