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Temba Bavuma is the “elephant in the room” for South Africa, according to Tom Moody

Nov 7, 2022

During this World Cup, the South African captain only amassed 70 runs in five innings.

Tom Moody claims that Temba Bavuma’s bad performance is “the elephant in the room” for South Africa following their shocking loss to Netherlands in the Super 12 round of the T20 World Cup.

On the T20 Time Out show, Moody said. “Without a doubt. That’s [Bavuma’s form] the elephant in the room. There’s better form players for this format sitting on the bench that should be playing on that side. That will be a discussion, that has to be a discussion in South Africa’s review because you cannot afford to carry key personnel. Particularly at the top of the order. That is the critical point.”

Bavuma has scored 635 runs at a strike rate of 116.08 and an average of 22.67 in 33 T20Is. His performance had been questioned leading up to this World Cup, and as the tournament’s opener, he only managed to score 70 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 112.90. In the crucial match between South Africa and Netherlands, Bavuma scored a run-a-ball total of 20.

After that, Moody compared Bavuma’s circumstance to that of Aaron Finch and Australia.

“They [Australia] had a similar issue. Once you have one wheel that’s not spinning like it should be spinning, it affects the direction you all go as a unit. That’s what was happening with South Africa. The rest were sort of covering up for a clear deficiency up top.

“We totally respect their situation and what they’re achieving and you have to admire everything that’s happening. But there’s another way you can make up to be more effective with what’s happening at the top of the order.”

Robin Uthappa, a former Indian batter, concurred with Moody’s analysis. 

“Knowing Temba as a human being, I know that he’ll be reviewing his own career in T20 cricket very, very seriously after this,” Uthappa said. “Because he is a high-quality Test batsman. Very accomplished Test batter. So he’ll probably have a very hard look at his career and which direction it moves forward. And so will South Africa.”

South Africa’s loss to the Netherlands, according to Moody and Uthappa, was their biggest misstep in a major tournament—and there have been a few before.

“South Africa have only themselves to blame. It was all to play for. Even if you look at the last two overs of the first innings, they [Netherlands] were 127/4 before they got up to their eventual score,” Uthappa said.

Netherlands scored 31 runs in its final two overs to reach 158.

“Even that was achievable,” Uthappa said. “All you had to do was bat sensibly, have wickets at the top in the back 10 irrespective of any situation. You want your main batters batting at the end. There was no proper batter for South Africa in the last four overs which is why they found themselves short.”

After winning the toss in Adelaide, South Africa’s bowling performance drew criticism from Moody. “At the end of the day, South Africa only has themselves to blame for the way they conducted themselves today. They bowled poorly, failed to assess the field conditions with the ball, failed to capitalize on a surface that was obviously wearing a little bit and just holding a little bit, and obviously lacked ball discipline at the back end.

“And their batsmen got in. A lot of their batsmen got in, they got started. But who’s going to put their hand up? No one put their hand up after getting those important starts,” Moody said. “We’ve seen it before with South Africa, but I think this is probably going to take first place with regards to their stumbles in these events.”

South Africa have often been called “chokers” for losing key matches from winning positions in big tournaments. “You can’t blame them for everyone calling them chokers because they’ve done this to themselves in this situation,” Uthappa said. “When we’ve all believed and all felt that they have come past that situation, come to a big stage, they have done the same thing all over again.”

The loss, according to Moody, was worse than their elimination from the 1999 ODI World Cup.

“There’s no other way to explain it [on the “chokers” tag]. I was involved in the 1999 World Cup against South Africa in that semi-final and even in the game before that, where Steve Waugh made an unbelievable hundred at Headingley. So that memory of that World Cup is so clear in my head and that was a major stumble from their point of view. I thought that was big. This is winning by a lap.”

Uthappa claimed that their batters did not perform to their potential, which would have sufficed in this case.

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