Proteas cricket experiences a new dawn as Elgar is replaced by a new dean: Temba Bavuma!
Bavuma with his former Test captain Dean Elgar
When in January of 2022, Dean Elgar - batsman par excellence, genuine leader and quintessential Protean - crunched an unbeaten 96 at Wanderers; he enabled his side to a record breaking win over a beast of an opponent in the form of India.
The talk in the Protea town at that point was that Dean Elgar would not flinch a step anywhere out of the captaincy and would continue being the leader of the Test side that he had so thoughtfully been.
Moreover, nearly two years of being at the helm of the leadership affairs kept the side in good stead and had a positive effect on his abilities as a batsman.
And here we are.
It's February 2023.
Anyone who said that the Proteas unit, regardless of the format of the game, reads pretty much like an unfathomable fable, was nowhere in the wrong.
The South African Test side is all set to begin a brand new season against the West Indies. But the leader donning the whites will no longer be the man against whose name stands some 5,027 runs and 13 centuries.
Perhaps it's a bit unnerving to imagine Dean Elgar as the former captain while the man entrusted with the white-ball leadership responsibility Temba Bavuma is all set to become the new Test captain.
To some, this new appointment may seem a tad sudden. To most others, perhaps it was the right call that took its own course. 35-year-old Dean Elgar is not growing any younger. Meanwhile, Bavuma who's already cut his teeth and to a good effect in the shorter formats of the game (having recently relinquished T20I captaincy) is perhaps the right man for the job.
That said, what does the South African coach (Test cricket) Shukri Conrad say?
If the newly-appointed Test coach is to be believed, then Elgar's removal isn't down to his recent underwhelming performances with the bat, but because of the strength of his relationship with Temba Bavuma.
For argument's sake, Bavuma's recent feather in the hat, resulting from South Africa making lightwork of England in the 3-match ODI series would have fuelled the recent captaincy decision taken by the cricket board.
Yet, one can't help but observe that Elgar, the Dean of Test match batting has been extended a raw deal given he fared rather decently as the honcho of the five-day side; under the left-hander's captaincy, the Proteas won 9 Tests whilst they lost 7.
Could he have been given an extended run instead, for instance, one would've waited to see the outcome of the soon-to-begin West Indies tour of South Africa?
But a key observation here is that Temba Bavuma's ascension as the Test leader coincides with the return of Aiden Markram to the Test fold.
For someone whose batting talent is as natural as his ability to turn a contest nearly single-handedly, one can't help but ask the big question; couldn't the returning Markram have been trained for the leadership in the purest format?
Surely, Aiden Markram is 4 years and 21 Test matches younger than Bavuma; the latter is already in charge of the captaincy of the twin formats.
Moreover, Markram- 2000 plus Test runs at an average north of 34- is a well liked character and a level-headed individual.
But is that the only option that was on offer to the Proteas contingent and its think tank?
If not the elegant right hander, then maybe the selectors would certainly have tried to give a chance to the likes of Anrich Nortje, a talent without whom the current annals of Protea cricket are hard to imagine.
A dominant character and an agile athlete, Nortje's natural talent spurs his team to good heights.
Ever since his inclusion into the Test eleven, the South African bowling attack has been biting into the neck of its opponents.
Yet, what's a touch surprising is that at a time where Proteas cricket has opted for split coaching, with Rob Walter and Conrad Shukri going for their respective duties, what is the sense of putting such enormous responsibility on the shoulders of Bavuma, who's already in charge of the ODI captaincy?
Or maybe, all of us are purely partaking in conjecture and time will soon reveal how good a leader the man from Cape Town is at the Test level.