How Bavuma-led South Africa can avoid choking and win the trophy this time
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride - this has been the case for South Africa since their debut in World Cups in 1992. The Proteas have always been a strong contender for the final glory, but the choking trait of theirs has never left them in pinnacle tournaments like World Cup.
Proteas during their latest tour of India [PC: Associated Press]
Be it the 1992 World Cup - where Kepler Wessels' boys fell 19 runs short of a final slot - or the heartache in World Cup of 1999. The same pain occurred for them in 2015 - when all ABD, Steyn, Morkel, etc were teary-eyed.
They remained a yard short in the last T20 World Cup, and in the one that was played before it, but the last two T20 WCs didn't saw the boys Rainbow nation choking. Dew, wet outfield, toss result and ruthless T20 format all stood against them. But, they showed character in 2016 and in 2021 - that was uncharacteristic to South Africa of past.
In 2021, in UAE, the Temba Bavuma-led side were just 0.477 NRR away from proceeding for the semifinals. Their captain was tactically brilliant and his tactical brilliance was one of the prime reason that melded into a great force. Skipper Bavuma gave them voice and South Africa really roared at world stage.
The skip is still brilliant with his tactics but the South African side has moved on from him. He hasn't done anything wrong to lose his troops. But his troops have found a better jam without Bavuma in the mix.
There are the giants of the Millers and the Markrams and the de Kocks and the Stubbs (okay, Stubbs is not a giant as of now), but Bavuma - the batter has become a minion in the big boy's race. His speed isn't matching to that of the giants, his strike rate is being considerately low in a game which is running at 1000 miles per hour.
Yes, he is the same person who gave them a loud voice a year ago but the Proteas now have leaders in Miller or Maharaj who have proven their mettle against sides like England and Sri Lanka (the current Asia Cup winner).
A side well aided by pacers like Rabada, Nortje, Ngidi and Jansen. That very side has the control of Maharaj and wiliness of Shamsi. And then comes the giants of batting in QDK, Miller Rossouw, Markram and Stubbs. The jam of Temba Bavuma is not solidifying the Proteas, at the moment, but is disabling them to break the jinx of World Cups.