Bavuma outlines struggles of leading South Africa amid off-field issues
South Africa have played more than the opposition in recent summers with problems which came to a head this season after their manager, Mark Boucher, was charged with serious misconduct by Cricket South Africa (CSA). Boucher received his indictment – which confirmed that the CSA will seek his dismissal – on Monday, two days before the ODI series against India which South Africa swept 3-0.
Boucher’s accusations relate to historic and current treatments of racial issues, which have always been part of the South African cricket narrative but have become even more topical since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in sport in 2020. Since then , South Africa have named their first black African ODI captain, Temba Bavuma, who has now described the difficulties of being in charge of a team that continues to face problems off the pitch.
“I don’t think it’s easy (team captain). There’s a lot of dynamics you have to deal with. For me the most important thing is trying to keep cricket front and center for the lads “, said Bavuma. “I hate to talk about it, but it’s been a tough time for the team, for the players, for some members of management. There’s been a lot of scrutiny around the team and around the organization, so to manage the conversations around the change-room and make sure our energy is 100% performance-oriented there, for me, was the biggest challenge. It was a big responsibility but also a privilege. But it’s not easy.
Bavuma didn’t name Boucher specifically and when the man himself was asked about the difficulties of coaching a side that constantly faces pressure off the pitch, Boucher said: “I can’t answer that. . Not now anyway.”
ESPNcricinfo understands Boucher has been advised not to discuss matters related to his disciplinary hearing as it is part of the ongoing investigation. Boucher and his legal team will meet with the CSA on Wednesday to set a timetable for the hearing, but it is unlikely to start before South Africa returns from their two-test tour of New Zealand, which begins on February 17. Report reported on Sunday that Boucher’s defense would be funded by a group of wealthy businessmen, and although he did not name any, billionaire Johann Rupert, an entrepreneur, tweeted in support of Boucher earlier during the week.
Despite what could be a tough few months for Boucher personally, he was positive about the development the team has made under his watch to beat India in the Test and ODI series this season. “The progression has been excellent,” Boucher said. “We turned the corner a while ago from a team perspective. We tried a few things in the Covid times when we needed to get a deeper squad and we gave a lot of opportunities to lots of players. We’re starting to reap the rewards now. Everything is falling into place, which is nice.
While acknowledging areas for improvement, such as commissioning in particular, Boucher said the team’s ingredients could be a recipe for future success, especially because there is a sense of harmony internally. . “There are always places where we can improve. I don’t think our roster was great. But I like the look of this batting team. I like the balance. We get hundreds of them, and it’s “It’s with one or two of these out-of-form guys. I believe we have a class top six,” Boucher said. “And now with the all-around players, we have a few that we can look at. We have a very good environment. The locker room is a happy locker room and the players grow as cricketers and human beings.”
South Africa will celebrate their double win against India, but Boucher said their feet remained “firmly on the ground”, and Bavuma, speaking from both the captain’s and stick’s perspective, echoed to that. “It means a lot as a player. Knowing that I contributed to the winning cause makes it better,” he said. “You will always be judged on your record and convincingly beating an Indian team says a lot about my captaincy. But things are still early days from a leadership perspective. I will take the positives but I will try very hard not to get ahead of myself.”