Temba Bavuma already missed the T20 series against Pakistan this year through injury and now the middle-order batsman might be forced to take a short sabbatical from Test cricket as well, with Proteas captain Dean Elgar confirming on Wednesday that his vice-captain is in doubt for the fist Test against the West Indies which starts at St Lucia on Thursday.
Bavuma strained his hamstring in the last ODI against Pakistan in early April and had to miss the four T20s that followed, but his current injury is a problem with his left hip.
“Temba is a bit of a concern; yesterday was a big day when he pushed his body and today he’ll have to go and prove his fitness,” Elgar said on Wednesday morning in the Caribbean.
“We’re obviously banking on him being fit, but Kyle Verreynne is definitely in position to take his place, he’s best suited to No 5, which is where Temba would slot in, he’s accustomed to that.
“That means we’ll possibly have two guys making their debut (Keegan Petersen) is set to replace the retired Faf du Plessis), but we don’t have other options really. All our back-up batsmen haven’t played Test cricket yet. But it’s not bad to have young guys coming in, they’re very hungry. I’m sure Kyle will be champing at the bit if Temba is not fit.”
Conditions at St Lucia at this time of year would seem to be very different to what South African teams have previously encountered in the West Indies, but Elgar said they had garnered plenty of info from a two-day practice game they played that turned into a pretty intense contest.
“We’ve been thrown into the deep end a lot recently, but we played a two-day game and it was two tough days of cricket,” Elgar said.
“The first day was very tough batting conditions, playing on a side-pitch with a slope, it was overcast and we’re using the Duke ball we’re not so used to. And then the second day was an extremely competitive battle between bat and ball.
“Historically this is a very seam-friendly pitch, but if you apply yourself as a batsman you can get in and score runs. We are aware of our limitations and failures, but preparation is one thing we can control, although it is no guarantee of success. We’ve lost a lot of experience in the batting, but it’s time for guys to put their hands up, there are opportunities there now.”