Bavuma turns attention to World Cup after 'tricky journey'

Stuart Hess Sports reporter
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said leading the Proteas at the World Cup is a 'major honour and privilege'.
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said leading the Proteas at the World Cup is a 'major honour and privilege'.
Image: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

After what Proteas One-Day skipper Temba Bavuma described as a “tricky journey,” South Africa can begin their World Cup preparations, which will involve training camps, the SA A tour to Sri Lanka and the ODI series with Australia in September.

The Proteas’ qualification for the World Cup, to be held in India later this year, was confirmed on Tuesday when the opening match of Ireland’s three-match series with Bangladesh was abandoned because of rain which arrived in the 17th over of Ireland’s run chase. 

Ironically, the Irish cricket authorities chose to play the series in Chelmsford in England instead of their home venues in Dublin or Belfast, believing they’d get better weather. 

The Proteas huffed and puffed their way into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot through the ICC Super League tournament. If I look at the journey, it’s been a tricky one for us as a 50-over team to get to this point,” Bavuma said. 

The Proteas lost series at home to Pakistan and Bangladesh, Sri Lanka away, while a loss and a rained out match against Ireland in 2021 did them no favours either. In addition, there was the controversial decision by Cricket South Africa to forfeit a series with Australia to ensure the contracted Proteas players were available for the inaugural SA20 tournament earlier this year . 

That left Bavuma’s men needing to beat world champions England — which they did 2-1 — and the Netherlands — a series held over from 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic — while hoping for results to go their way in series involving Sri Lanka and Ireland. 

“Looking at the past few months, we have made a lot of positive strides as a team. We are well positioned to build on the momentum and confidence we’ve gained. Now is the perfect opportunity for us to focus on the World Cup from a preparation point of view, nail down on our plans and brush up on areas we feel we need to brush up on,” Bavuma said.

The Proteas, the coaching staff and Cricket South Africa would have breathed a sigh of relief that they avoided the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. While there was a feeling in some circles that playing in that event would be beneficial in more match time and gaining experience of playing in pressure situations, the prospect of not playing at the World Cup was also realistic given the presence in that competition of the West Indies and Sri Lanka, both previous World Cup winners, and the tricky conditions in Zimbabwe at that time of year. 

While Cricket South Africa has publicly stated that winning the 2027 tournament, which will be hosted in South Africa, is a priority for the players and coaching staff, senior officials noted it would have been embarrassing had the Proteas not qualified for this year’s tournament. 

That has been avoided and new limited overs coach Rob Walter can now turn his attention to preparing a squad for the World Cup. Cricket South Africa will host a few winter training camps for the players, where Walter can begin formulating strategies, while for players on the fringes of selection, such as Tony de Zorzi, Gerald Coetzee, Tristan Stubbs and Dewald Brevis, next month’s SA A tour to Sri Lanka, that includes three One-Day matches, provides the perfect opportunity to showcase their ability in conditions similar to India’s. 

The Sri Lanka A side is also likely to be a strong one, as they ramp up preparations for that qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. 

The Proteas face Australia in five ODIs in September — a month before the World Cup — in a series where some of the team's plans and combinations will be refined. 

Sri Lanka and Ireland join the host nation, the West Indies, the UAE, US, Nepal, Oman, Scotland and the Netherlands in the qualifying tournament that starts on June 18. The top two teams from that tournament will earn the final spots at the World Cup.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.