Bubbly Bavuma stands tall for SA

CULT HERO: Diminutive Temba Bavuma sends down a delivery in the test match against Australia. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
CULT HERO: Diminutive Temba Bavuma sends down a delivery in the test match against Australia. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

A distance of 1.22m separates the bowling crease from the popping crease.

A distance of 1.61m separates the soles of Temba Bavuma’s feet from the top of his head.

And yet, when Bavuma ran in to bowl his first delivery in test cricket at the Waca on Monday, planting his right foot on the bowling crease, he managed to overstep the popping crease.

Worse yet, the ball thudded into Usman Khawaja’s pads and for a moment Bavuma looked like becoming the 21st player to take a wicket with his first test delivery.

How someone so short – the 1.91m Kagiso Rabada failed to see Bavuma’s frantic attempts to effect a celebratory high-five after an Australian wicket fell on Friday – could span the creases in his delivery stride beggared belief.

Also a magical mystery was how Bavuma swooped in to run out David Warner from a horizontal airborne position on Sunday.

“I’ve always wanted to get that kind of run out but I can’t explain how it happened,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

And all that on top of a gritty 51 in the first innings that helped repair the damage after South Africa were reduced to 32/4.

None of which surprised Rabada, Bavuma’s Lions teammate.

“He bowls now and then in the nets and everybody’s like, ‘Whoa! Temba? That’s pretty good’,” Rabada said.

“Temba is a quality player. We’ve seen run outs like that a couple of times at franchise level. “For us who know him it’s nothing new, but that was very special.”

A week ago few Australians would have known much about Bavuma.

Now, the eyes of even the more grizzled Australian cricket writers twinkle at themention of his name, and he has been branded a bit of a cult hero by a television reporter.

“Everybody loves him at the moment,” Proteas coach Russell Domingo said.

“He’s a good kid. He’s still learning and he’s disappointed he didn’t kick on after getting 50. “He played really beautifully in that first innings and held it together for us. He’s a guy that things seem to happen around.”

“He takes great catches at short leg, he is a great bubbly personality with a very deep voice.”

That Bavuma does, and with a seriousness uncommon to 26-year-olds of any height.

As the Australians are finding out, he is a tall order to play against.

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