Temba Bavuma all set for his first 'live net' since thumb injury

October 14, 2021

Temba Bavuma will have his first "live net" on Friday as he continues his recovery from a broken thumb, sustained in Sri Lanka last month. He expects to pass the fitness test to play in South Africa's first warm-up match, against Afghanistan on Monday.

"My hand is definitely improving by the day," Bavuma said. "It's getting stronger and I am getting a lot more comfortable with it. Tomorrow will be the first time I am having a live net, facing bowlers, so I am looking forward to that and that will give me a better indication of how far I've progressed. At the moment, everything is still on track. I am looking to play in the warm-up games. I am feeling good."

With teams training under strict biosecure conditions, no external net bowlers are allowed, so Bavuma will have to face one of his own. It's not yet known who that will be, although it's likely to be one of the slower pace bowlers, such as Wiaan Mulder, or a spinner like Bjorn Fortuin, rather than one of the out-and-out quicks.

Irrespective of who runs in, Bavuma is concerned with using the exercise as a way to understand what he can and cannot do in terms of his grip and ability to hit the ball. "What I am trying to get out of it is to get comfortable with my hand and with what I can do and, I guess, make peace with what I can't do. I can't say I am scared or anything like that. It's hard for me to give any emotions. It's just for me to get the necessary comfort and also to assess where I am."

Should Bavuma get through that session and the subsequent ones over the next nine days, he hopes to line up alongside Quinton de Kock to open the batting for South Africa at the tournament proper. "My role is quite obvious and clear," Bavuma said. "I am someone to come in at the top, and if there is an opportunity to come in at No. 3, I will fill in that spot."

That will leave Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram contesting for the third spot in the top three, and Bavuma indicated that the middle order is also still to be figured out. "Reeza has batted quite well but from my side, I will be partnering with Quinny and we will see who comes in the middle order."

Getting the balance between steady scorers and big-hitters right will be an urgent consideration for South Africa, who, on the evidence of the IPL, expect conditions to be tough for batting. "As a batter, I'd like to be able to get on a nice wicket where you can hit through the line and throw your hands, but the general trend from looking at the IPL is that we won't have that luxury as batters," Bavuma said. "We will have to really graft out there. We will really have to be smart. Scores of 150-160 look like winning scores. As batters, we are going to have to dig deep."

Like Aiden Markram, Bavuma thinks the most difficult conditions will be in Sharjah, where South Africa play two of their five group games. "Looking at the games played in Sharjah, it's been rather interesting," Bavuma said. "Wickets have been a bit tougher and guys have had to be smart, think on their feet and adjust accordingly. We don't know what state the wickets are going to be in. We expect the wickets to be a bit worn out. The biggest thing for us is to try and assess and adapt as quickly as we can on the day."

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