‘There’s no issue there’ – Mark Boucher shrugs off concerns around Temba Bavuma’s strike rate

“Temba struggled during the tour. There is no doubt about it,” said South Africa coach Mark Boucher. But he only really struggled against one bowler and that was [Bhuvneshwar] Kumar. Most of the guys competed against him. Let’s give him credit where it’s due. Kumar is a fantastic bowler in those circumstances.”
Bhuvneshwar, who opened the bowl and moved the ball both ways, was the second highest wicket taker in the series with six strikes from five matches at 2:16 PM. He also had the lowest thrift rate among bowlers who had played all five games in this series – 6.07 runs per over – leaving South Africa on three of their five lowest power play scores against India.

“There were times when the ball was swinging a lot, which makes it very, very dangerous. Also, the ball went up and down a lot, especially with the new ball,” said Boucher. We look at it as coaches and say, how do we look at that particular bowler and how do we give him? [Bavuma] more options? It’s pretty hard for him to change during a series where you actually travel, play, travel. To get into a series lead-off, T20, you have to go from the start, that would always be very difficult for him, especially against Kumar. With other bowlers, his strike rates are fine. There’s no problem there.”

Bavuma scored 61 runs in four innings with a batting rate of 103.38. Of South Africa’s specialized batters, only Quinton de Kock scored fewer runs and Bavuma’s batting frequency was the lowest. He scored just 13 runs off 25 balls he faced from Kumar in the series, with one layoff, with a stroke rate of 52.00 and 48 runs off 34 balls he got from the rest of India’s attack, with a stroke rate of 141.18, proving Boucher’s point. The challenge for Bavuma now is how to make sure he can still score on bowlers like Bhuvneshwar and Boucher has a plan that isn’t just for Bavuma.

“We’ve had conversations about the first 10 balls you encounter. What’s your goal? Is it?” [to score] 10 out of 10 or 14 out of 10?” Boucher said. “It’s an extra limit that you look at and 14 out of 10 goes to 140. The margins aren’t as big as what people think. It might just be another scoring option. We did it last year in regards to scoring all the wickets. You would have seen reverse sweeps come in, guys who have never lapped before, they have the round option. If you give batters one or two more options to try and get the strike rate a little higher than they currently have, it challenges players and challenges them to become the best in the world. When you look at it in its entirety, you would think it’s nearly impossible for a guy to hit a strike rate of 140 when he’s at 120, but it could just be an extra shot to his entire repertoire that that could change.”

But to do that, Boucher would like to see a small change of mindset among his batters. “You have to have the technical know-how to play a shot,” he said. “Once you gain the confidence to add that extra shot to your stroke or ball to your bowling, you have the mindset to go out there and really rely on it.”

And once the players are convinced that they can hit big and fast, Boucher believes the South African line-up could become as explosive as teams like India or England. “Ultimately you are not going to win World Cups with a mentality where you are careful,” he said. “You have to go out and play. There have been other teams in the world – India showed us how they play, England and the way they play – that’s really the way forward, especially in the shorter version of the game .”

The next question is whether Bavuma will stay on course for the World Cup after suffering an elbow injury during the India series, when he fell while completing a single in the fourth game on Friday. He will undergo scans on Tuesday after serving Sunday’s decider. “We were really concerned after the actual injury because he couldn’t bend his arm at all,” said Boucher. “But the next morning he was able to bend it, so that was good news.”

South Africa’s next assignment is an all-size tour of England, with the white balls departing on 8 July. They are expected to announce the selection next week.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.