Proteas captain Temba Bavuma is not in danger of being dropped for the Cricket World Cup playoffs, coach Rob Walter insists, despite his poor run of form at the showpiece in India.
It remained unclear whether Bavuma would be available for South Africa’s semi-final against Australia in Kolkata on Thursday after he picked up a hamstring strain during their final group stage match against Afghanistan last week.
The skipper returned to training on Monday but the team’s medical staff hadn’t yet made a decision on his availability for the crunch clash, as the Proteas looked to qualify for the World Cup final for the first time.
“We’re just taking it daily but we’ve seen a positive progression each day which is awesome,” Walter said yesterday.
“It’s a process, so yesterday (Monday) was just a step in the process of declaring him fit. He didn’t do any high-speed running, any fielding or running between wickets, so we still have to check him out in the more high-speed zones… to test whether he is ready.”
‘One of our best batters’
If he was fit to play, Walter said Bavuma’s place in the team was secure, despite failing to deliver at the top of the order at the World Cup.
In seven innings at the global spectacle, the skipper had made 145 runs at an average of 20.71.
While he conceded no player in the squad was “undroppable”, however, Walter felt Bavuma had cemented his spot in the playoffs after performing well earlier in the year.
In the 10 ODI matches Bavuma played in 2023 before the World Cup, he contributed 637 runs (including three centuries) at an average of 79.62.
“Temba hasn’t come into the conversation about being dropped because he’s been one of our best batters for the entire year,” Walter said.
“So from my point of view, he hasn’t scored the runs that he would have wanted to in the World Cup, but in every training session and every game he looks like he’s close, so a good score is just around the corner for him.”
Dealing with rain
Meanwhile, with rain predicted in Kolkata on Thursday, Walter said there was little they could do about the conditions, but he was confident they could tackle whatever challenges they faced.
“I don’t think you can prepare too much for it because it is such an inconsistent factor,” he said.
“We obviously have to have our ducks in a row if the game is impacted somehow by rain, but it’s business as usual until we get closer to the time and can see how rain might impact things.”
Unbeaten hosts India will face New Zealand in the first World Cup semi-final in Mumbai on Wednesday, starting at 10.30am.
The winner of that match will face either South Africa or Australia in the title decider in Ahmedabad on Sunday.