Temba Bavuma hits back at critics following ODI World Cup exit

Following their exit from the 2023 ODI World Cup in the semi-finals to eventual champions Australia last week, several South African players landed back home. Team captain Temba Bavuma and coach Rob Walter, also went back on Saturday (November 18) evening.

Bavuma, who had a challenging campaign with the bat, amassing only 145 runs in eight innings at an average of 18.12 and a strike rate of 73.60, acknowledged his batting struggles upon returning home. Despite this, the 33-year-old emphasized his effective leadership skills throughout the recently concluded tournament. Notably, South Africa secured victories in five out of seven matches under Bavuma.

“I’m there as the captain and I’m there as a batsman. I try to separate the two. I don’t know what the metric is to judge someone if they’re captaining well. We won the most games in the group stage out of any South African team. We beat teams that haven’t been beaten in a while in World Cups so what metrics are we going to use to judge whether a guy is using the job as the captain?,” Bavuma was quoted as saying by Daily Maverick.

“As a batter, that I’m not oblivious to, I wasn’t pulling my weight from that point of view. But we take a lot of confidence from the fact that I was involved in partnerships at the top. Partnerships are one of my roles in the team and you had a lot of guys who were taking on that extra responsibility from a runs point of view,” he added.

I am not someone who is going to walk away from adversity: Temba Bavuma

Facing scrutiny as the perceived scapegoat for the semi-final loss, Bavuma acknowledged his struggles with form and playing despite an ailing hamstring. While admitting he was not fully fit during the crucial match against Australia, the 33-year-old also emphasized that there was no possibility of him sitting out the game. Addressing the criticisms directed at him, Bavuma asserted his commitment to the role of Proteas captain, stating that he has no intention of walking away from the responsibility.

“For me to step down in a World Cup semifinal, that thought is strange. I am not someone who is going to walk away from adversity, I am not someone who is going to answer to calls from people shouting on Twitter or Facebook. Decisions I make will always be for the betterment of the team. I have said it from the beginning that if any of the guys stood there and said, ‘Temba, you are not the man for the job as captain,” then I would happily walk away.

“These are the bunch of guys who we have been together since 2020. We know each other through and through, and we know what we play for. I am not the guy who is on Twitter or Facebook. Yes, I was not 100%, but if you know anything about professional cricket you will know guys don’t play cricket at 100% all the time. I have played games for the country with broken fingers and done well.”

“People have never questioned [when] I have played a series with a groin injury and done well. So, for that to be used as an excuse for the [reason] of our exit at the competition is crazy, with all due respect,” Bavuma further said.