South Africa’s Temba Bavuma, whose century-drought in Test cricket extended to 46 Tests at the MCG after he fell for 65 in the second innings, has held himself accountable for the Proteas’ inability to be ruthless with the bat, claiming that 60s and 70s with the bat, more often than not, don’t change the outcome of matches.
The New Year’s Test at the SCG will mark six years of Bavuma not scoring a ton in Test cricket, his previous (and only) three-figure score in the format coming against England back in January 2016 in Cape Town. Bavuma statistically has been the best South Africa batter since the start of last year (averaging 43.63) but a century has continued to elude him: he has six fifties in the said period and 17 half-centuries overall, since he last got to the three-figure mark.
Speaking in the aftermath of the MCG encounter, the Proteas’ white-ball skipper claimed that the need of the hour for South Africa in Tests is batters scoring big hundreds to compliment the effort being put by the bowlers.
"The 60s or 70s or I guess they're good for that moment, but in the bigger scheme of things they don't change the outcome of the game. I've obviously been guilty of that in my Test career, and that's something that I'd really like to change not just for myself but also for the team," Bavuma said, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
"That's something that the team needs - two guys to go out there and score big hundreds, and really give the bowlers something to rally behind."
At the MCG, Bavuma, at one point, looked good to get to the elusive three-figure mark, but perished for 65 attempting an uncharacteristic hoick off Nathan Lyon. The 32-year-old described his shot-selection as a ‘brain fart’ and blamed it partly on the fact that he was batting with the tail.
The challenge for him going forward, Bavuma said, will be to ‘keep batting and see how long I can go out there.’
"If I look at my dismissal today [caught while slog sweeping], it was probably a brain fart," Bavuma said.
"If I was batting with a batter, I probably wouldn't play the shot to be honest with you, with all due respect to KG [Kagiso Rabada] and the guys who came after them. I guess that's that.
“That's probably my biggest challenge: just to keep batting and see how long I can go out there."
In the press-conference post the second Test, South Africa captain Dean Elgar expressed a bit of unhappiness over the domestic structure back home, and hoped for first-class cricket to be ‘looked after a bit better’ but Bavuma refused to put the blame on the system.
Like Elgar, however, Bavuma admitted that the inexperience within the side has played a part in the team’s ordinary showing.
"I can't really sit here and have a go at our system. I'm part of that system as well, so that's not something I am going to give a brutal answer towards. But the inexperience within the group, that's really showing up,” Bavuma said.
South Africa, as a batting unit, have passed 200 just once in their last seven innings and lack of big scores have cost the side in both England and Australia. Bavuma admitted that the Proteas batters haven’t adapted, and acknowledged that they’ve not been good enough as a batting unit.
"The talk around the conditions is a matter of stating the obvious," he said.
"The team that wins is the team that adapts better in those conditions. And we simply haven't done that. It's a matter of us just not simply adapting. We need to be brutally honest as a batting group - we just haven't been good enough."